The Beacon: MollyH's blog

Oil Spill Quote of the Day

From Reuters UK today:

The oil spill poses a large threat to the Kemp's Ridley population which makes its home in the Gulf.

"This is a major blow to that population," said Todd Steiner, executive director of the California-based Turtle Restoration Project, said. "Here you have a situation where the adults, hatchlings and juveniles are all in the Gulf."


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Fact of the Day: Long-Snouted Spinner Dolphin

Did you know there are about 40 species of dolphin? When you think of dolphins, you might just be picturing the bottlenose dolphin or the common dolphin, but what about the long-snouted spinner dolphin?  (And did you know that the killer whale is actually a kind of dolphin too?)

Long-snouted spinner dolphins are relatively small for oceanic dolphins, growing only about 7 feet long (the bottlenose dolphin is about 10 feet long). Spinner dolphins are highly social and are often seen in pods of hundreds of dolphins. Like all dolphins, spinners communicate by echolocation, which is an elaborate series of clicks and whistles. Spinner dolphins also slap the surface of the water with their fins to communicate.


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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

From CNN.com today:

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill may have settled to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico further east than previously suspected and at levels toxic to marine life, researchers reported Monday.

Initial findings from a new survey of the Gulf conclude that dispersants may have sent the oil to the ocean floor, where it has turned up at the bottom of an undersea canyon within 40 miles of the Florida Panhandle. Plankton and other organisms showed a "strong toxic response" to the crude, according to researchers from the University of South Florida.

"The dispersant is moving the oil down out of the surface and into the deeper waters, where it can affect phytoplankton and other marine life," said John Paul, a marine microbiologist at USF.


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Fact of the Day: Humpback Whale

humpback whale

Humpback Whale (credit: Wanetta Ayers)

Today’s FOTD is about the humpback whale. These giants grow up to 50 feet long and weigh up to 40 tons. They are highly migratory and spend their summers feeding in the nutrient-rich polar waters and travel to tropical waters to breed.

There is little food for humpbacks in the warm waters of the tropics so they essentially live off their fat reserves, which they build up during their summers in the polar waters.


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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

From NPR.org today:

At the Gulf State Park Pier on the Alabama coast, ranger William Key notices that the waves crashing ashore are brownish, not their usual emerald green hue.

Key says the storm that came through the Gulf of Mexico last week churned up the water, and what was lurking below the surface was "a lot of silt, mud and oil. There's no two ways about it."

Key says people have wondered what would happen if a hurricane strikes while there's still oil in the Gulf.

"Well, we saw what happens just a couple of days ago, and that wasn't even a hurricane," he says. "We got high winds, high surf and it stirred up the oil that was on the bottom."


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Fact of the Day #2: Pea Crab

Because it’s Friday, I thought I’d give you a bonus FOTD!

The pea crab is a tiny crustacean about the size of a pea. They are soft-bodied and so small that they actually spend most of their lives inside the shells of other little animals, like mussels or tubeworms. 

There is some debate as to whether or not the relationship between the pea crab and its host is parasitic or not.  Pea crabs rely on their host for protection and food but it is unclear if this is harmful to the host.

Female pea crabs are translucent and larger than the yellowish males.  Check out this picture of a pea crab and have a great weekend!


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Fact of the Day: Oarfish

The oarfish is the longest bony fish in the world -- there have even been some reports of fish up to 50 feet long (and weighing up to 600 pounds)!  They are so long that many believe that these fish are the cause of some early tales of sea serpents and sea monsters.  Because of its sinuous body, it is occasionally called the ribbonfish.


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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

From CNN.com on Monday:

"We can see the beaches; we can see the dead animals; we can get a count on turtles and whales and all this stuff -- and all of that is eye-level observation," said [Ed] Overton, a professor emeritus at Louisiana State University and a veteran of oil-spill science.

"What we don't know is what damage is done ... to little creatures down below the surface -- or just at the surface -- that we never see."


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Fact of the Day: Dugong

dugong

Dugong (credit: Julien Willem)

Today’s FOTD is about the strangely adorable dugong, which is closely related to both the manatee and the elephant. 

Dugongs, often called sea cows, use their split tail and paddle-like front flippers to slowly maneuver while grazing on sea grasses in shallow waters. They uproot the grasses with their fleshy lips and gently shake their food to avoid ingesting large amounts of sediment. 


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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

On migratory birds from Tuesday's Chicago Tribune:

"We're pretty worried about the fate of waterfowl, wading birds and shorebirds" that have long wintered in the Gulf's protected marshes, said Tim Yager, manager of the McGregor District of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.

Yager said there are two concerns -- that remnant oil from the recently capped BP oil spill will coat the birds' feathers or that they will eat fish and other aquatic animals contaminated by oil.


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