The Beacon: MollyH's blog

Fact of the Day: Basking Shark

Basking Shark (credit: Chris Gotschalk)

Only one more week until Shark Week!  

So in preparation for the upcoming shark fest, today we will talk about the basking shark. Basking sharks are the second largest fish in the world.  (Pop quiz - what is the largest fish in the world? I’ll give you a hint: I have already written a FOTD about this kind of shark.) 

These sharks are filter feeders so they just swim around with their mouths open, collecting plankton and other tiny creatures while filtering out hundreds of thousands of gallons of water every hour. The water is filtered through the shark’s characteristically large gill slits on the sides of its head. 

Check out for more shark info and see you tomorrow for another FOTD!

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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

Today’s “Oil Spill Quote of the Day” is actually more of an “Oil Spill Diagram of the Day.” 

The Washington Post recently published a great graphic showing the effects of an oil spill on delicate marshlands.  These marshes are crucially important yet often get overlooked. So rather than reading the usual daily quote, go check out the informative image from the Washington Post

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Fact of the Day: Pygmy Seahorse

Can you spot the pygmy seahorse? (Credit: Steve Childs)

What is one inch long, matches the corals in which it primarily lives, and has a prehensile tail?

You guessed it (or read the title of today’s FOTD)- a pygmy seahorse!

Pygmy sea horses are less than an inch long and are really well camouflaged to match the gorgonian corals they inhabit.  These tiny seahorses use their prehensile tails to sturdy themselves and further blend into their surroundings for protection. 

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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

From today’s San Francisco Chronicle:

"We've said since news first broke and the extent of the gulf tragedy became known that it was certainly going to affect how people in the United States and California view offshore oil," said Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association. "It's a game-changing event."

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What Kind of Shark Are You?

Great White Shark (credit: Oceana/David P Stephens)

Hello, shark fans!

While I generally don’t take advice from 30 Rock’s Tracy Morgan, I do try to “live every week like it’s Shark Week.”  But as you may know, the real Shark Week starts August 1 and this year Oceana is an official partner with Discovery, so get ready for even more shark-filled fun and conservation.

I’ve been excited for weeks now so when I ran into the “What Kind of Shark Are You?” quiz on Discovery’s website, I had to check it out.  After answering the 10 questions I discovered that I am…a great white shark!

What kind of shark are you? Take the quiz and let us know your results! 

And to learn more about your shark alter ego, head to

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Fact of the Day: Box Jellyfish

Today’s FOTD involves a short story. 

A few years ago, I was stung by a jellyfish while taking my first surfing lesson in Australia. It hurt so much that I could hardly walk!  We kept a close watch on my breathing while I was rushed to a pharmacy to get ice and some truly magical anti-sting medication.  (Thank goodness for that stuff!) After looking at my swollen and scarred legs, my instructor guessed that though I never saw my attacker, it was likely a young box jellyfish.   

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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

From today's Washington Post:

"The worst case has just happened," [Ellen Hambro, director general of Norway’s Climate and Pollution Agency which is currently studying the Deepwater Horizon spill in order to learn from the crisis,] said. "We don't know yet the consequences, environmental or political."

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Fact of the Day: Tawny Nurse Shark

(Credit: David Burdick)

The tawny nurse shark is a nocturnal shark, swimming and hunting during the night and returning to the same location to rest during the day. These bottom-dwelling sharks typically look for small overhangs, caves or other slightly protected areas as their resting grounds and occasionally even rest in groups. Tawny nurse sharks are known to be docile and generally ignore humans unless provoked.

Check out how these sharks hunt for their prey -- Or explore some different ocean animals! And of course, check back tomorrow for another FOTD!

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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

From yesterday:

"Right now all the sponge crabs are out there trying to make babies, and that oil is killing the babies. So even when we can go back to crabbing, how many crabs will we have?  No one can tell me that. And that's what's scaring me," [said experienced crab fisherman and Louisiana resident Henry Martinez.]

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Fact of the Day: Narwhal

Narwhals (credit: Glenn Williams)

You may recognize this funny looking marine mammal as the large, talking cartoon whale from Will Ferrell’s “Elf” but the narwhal (or “corpse whale” in Old Norse) actually is a very real toothed whale that lives in cold, Arctic waters. 

Only male narwhals have the characteristic long tusk, which is actually a super long tooth that can grow up to 10 feet. It is unknown exactly what purpose this tooth serves but scientists do know that it is not used for hunting. 

Check out more about these ‘unicorns of the sea’ and other crazy creatures!

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