nikki's blog

Turtle Talk

Posted Thu, Aug 30, 2007 by nikki

It took whale watchers off the southwestern coast of Iceland over an hour to decide the giant sea turtle they spotted was neither a whale nor a distant cousin of the Loch Ness monster.

Nevermind the fact that Nessy would have to leave the Loch and swim a good chunk of the Atlantic in order to greet the whale watchers, that's beside the point.

The last time a sea turtle was spotted in colder Icelandic waters was 1963, though it's still possible to see that turtle - biologists captured it, killed it and now display it at the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, where it supposedly can educate the public about key differences between sea turtles and our underwater ally.

And apparently there's a lot of other stuff people don't know about sea turtles, like how they're endangered and we're not allowed to kill them. In other news, a Cayman Islands man was arrested for turtle-napping a 350-pound green sea turtle, one of only 10 that still nest on beaches there.

Authorities found the reptile tied to a wheelbarrow in the man's front yard, where it was allegedly about to be slaughtered.

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No Bones About It

Posted Wed, Aug 29, 2007 by nikki

When it comes to fossils, size matters -- at least according to a representative from Ripley's Believe It or Not, a museum chain that specializes in odd relics.

The chain reportedly paid $8,000 for a 4 1/2-foot mummified walrus penis bone, the largest known mammal penis fossil, at a recent auction.

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Feels Like Walking on Broken Glass

Posted Mon, Aug 27, 2007 by nikki

County officials in Broward, Florida anticipate becoming the first in the country to combine tiny crushed particles of glass with regular sand to help combat critical erosion along 24 miles of coast.

So if it feels just like you're walking on broken glass, well, you are.

The glass particles are so small, though, that beachgoers won't even notice, and other beaches around the globe are already testing the measure.

Normally sand is dredged from the ocean floor and deposited on beaches, but reef preservation and trawling restrictions have legislators changing their tune.

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Newest Member of Baywatch?

Posted Fri, Aug 24, 2007 by nikki

The biggest thing to hit the beaches since Pamela Anderson joined the cast of Baywatch has more hair on his chest than David Hasselhoff and more spring in his step than ... wait, who else was on that show?

His name is Bilbo. You'll be thankful to know he doesn't perform CPR, though you'll have to overlook the fact that his swim stroke is more like a doggie paddle.

That's because Bilbo is a dog, a specially trained dog at that, put to work by British lifeguards in Cornwall to prevent ocean goers from entering the surf when the current's too strong.

Bilbo is reportedly perfecting his slow-motion beach run and hopes to take it his act Hollywood. A talk with Hasselhoff is in the works.

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It's a Boy! No Wait ...

Posted Wed, Aug 22, 2007 by nikki

Keepers at a Birmingham, England aquarium couldn't understand why George the octopus was acting so sluggish and not keeping his food down, that is, until one particular Monday when keepers discovered George had laid thousands of eggs.

Turns out George is really more of a Georgina.

Maybe male octopuses don't become pregnant, but male pregnancy does occur in nature. Take sea horses, for example.

And Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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It's Not Rocket Science

Posted Tue, Aug 21, 2007 by nikki

From the agency that entertained us with headlines of drunken and diaper-wearing astronauts comes this latest headline that sounds more like a sequel to that David Lynch film in the '80s: Operation Dark Dune.

While the original Dune may have been a quest for the precious spice mélange in a galaxy far, far away - or something like that, the movie came out the year I was born - Operation Dark Dune takes place here on Earth as the quest to preserve and protect sea turtle nesting beaches at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

Sea turtles face a range of threats from impacts on nesting beaches to hazards in the water. Nests are easily crushed by vehicles driving on dunes and are subject to predation by raccoons and other animals that dig up the nests to eat the eggs.  

Once out of the nests, sea turtle hatchlings use light cues to find the sea; artificial lighting near the beach can disorient hatchlings leading to dehydration and death.

Lighting over the launch pads is causing this very problem at Kennedy. So what's a solution that's cheap and handy? Members of NASA's environmental management team racked their brains and came up with boxcars.

Here's to hoping this endeavor doesn't hit any snags ... or foam insulation. Or ice.

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Feel Like Making Slug

Posted Fri, Aug 17, 2007 by nikki

Ever wondered how near-blind sea slugs get it on? I know; me too. Fortunate enough for my insatiable curiosity, one of our interns passed along a link to this story that clears up the murky mystery of sea slug mating.

In short, scientists found that these slugs secrete four chemicals, which seem to lure mates faster than this girl can say Viagra.

Researchers are using their findings to see if they can identify similar pheromones in other marine creatures that influence mating behavior and to see if those pheromones can be manipulated and recreated.

If that doesn't work, though, I bet Justin Timberlake will do the trick. ...

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Love That Fish

Posted Wed, Aug 15, 2007 by nikki

I never thought I'd say it, but Courtney Love actually has a point.

The widow of grunge icon Kurt Cobain and former front-woman of rock band Hole reveals in the upcoming issue of Harper's Bazaar that a diet heavy in fish contributed to her recent 50-pound weight loss.

So long as it's a sustainable species, that is, that fisheries are well managed and populations are not under pressure, eating fish is fine - healthier than other meats and packed full of Omega-3, which I hear is important.

Lucky for us all, Oceana has a handy dandy seafood guide that makes seafood decisions all the easier - it makes a splash at dinner parties, too, let me tell ya!

As to Love's retort, claiming Hollywood celebs who swear by a nothing-but-fish-and-broccoli diet are nothing but "bulimic liars," well, no one ever asserted a fishy diet has the power to turn crass into class.

It's healthier, yeah, but it's not magic.

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Jail Break - Fingerling Trout Make the Great Escape

Posted Mon, Aug 13, 2007 by nikki

Keep a vigilant eye on your daughters:
Fingerling trout similar to the one
pictured here busted loose from a fish
farm in Scotland, aided by otters.

An estimated 30,000 juvenile trout made a break for it after a band of sea otters sprung them from a fish farm in Scotland.

Authorities discovered 20 places in the farm's netting where the otters had chewed through. (No reports of the otters slipping spoons, files or other so-called "contraband" to the incarcerated trout by way of baked goods have surfaced.)

It may seem that fish farming is the obvious solution to overfishing concerns. For myriad reasons, though, fish farming can actually prove more detrimental to surrounding habitat.  

Fish farmers, for one, often pump antibiotics into these fish tanks to prevent disease from spreading among fish, which are swimming in pretty cramped quarters. Humans eating such farmed fish are also ingesting these antibiotics, which are unnatural and not necessarily healthy.

When a jail break like the trout incident occurs, unnatural fish are introduced into a foreign ecosystem, competing for food and possibly causing problems for the marine locals -- fish and such, that is.

One day fish farming practices will develop to where they are economically and environmentally feasible. Until then proper management of wild fisheries is a better solution.

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