Monday, January 30, 2006

Stupid Omar

Now, I know this has nothing to do with marine biology, but I also use this blog to vent sometimes. I cannot believe that Omar Minaya has dropped the ball here (for those of you who have no idea, he is the general manager of the New York Mets). I have problems with trading young talent for older players, although I did like the Carlos Delgado trade, because the Mets need a bat in the line-up. I also like Paul Lo Duca, although not for the talent the Mets gave up. He is a good catcher, consistant hitter, good defense. However, when I find out that the Padres signed Mike Piazza for 1 year for 2 million dollars (with an option for 2007), this pisses me off. Mike Piazza was the backbone of the Mets for what, 8 years?? He did everything for this team, he took them to the World Series for Christ's sake. He also set the record for home runs by a catcher, and despite his throwing inefficiences, is one of the better defensive backstops (when you take into account calling a game, blocking a plate, not giving up passed balls). And even though his offensive production dropped (as it does for all catchers late in their careers, which I am sure we will see with Paul Lo Duca), he still had better numbers than most. Furthermore, the platoon last season of Piazza/Castro was the most prodcutive of any catcher or catcher combo in the league. The man was a baseball god, his career numbers speak for themselves and he is a lock for the Hall of Fame. Plus he only needs 3 home runs to surpass the 400 mark. This is a big deal. The Mets should have kept him, which I had been saying all along, paid his 4 million to play 2/3 of the games. It would have saved them money (Lo Duca is over 5 mil) and young talent (one of their top pitching prospects). I mean theres gotta be a time when for respect alone you keep around the guy who made the Mets from chumps to champs (and whatever they didnt win the series, they still got there). One more year, with this line-up he could bat 6th, 7th, have no pressure to produce or get overplayed (and a healthy Piazza was at his best last season), he could have hit #400 with the Mets and all but garuanteed his entrance to the Hall as a Met. I am just really disappointed, mostly because I really liked Mike Piazza, and I think he deserved an opportunity to end his career with the Mets and I am sure he wanted to. But Omar made it clear he was not wanted, pulled some bone head moves, and now we have a Lo Duca/Castro platoon that probably won't be as productive as Piazza is himself this season in San Diego. Stupid Omar. Not to mention trading Jae Seo and Kris Benson for some second rate relief pitchers??? I thought this was going to be their year, but I am not sure now. Damn Mets...

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Admin is trying to quiet scientists

Not that this is new news, but I just think it is a bit ridiculous that we are the only modern, 1st world country who doesn't seem to give a rat's ass about the environment. In the news today, Dr James Hansen, the top climatologist working for NASA said the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming. (this is absolutely absurd, this is what our country is coming to for all you conservatives out there who think Bush is God)
here is some of the text from the article:

Hansen stated in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.
Since 1988, he has been issuing public warnings about the long-term threat from heat-trapping emissions, dominated by carbon dioxide, that are an unavoidable byproduct of burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels. In 2001, Dr. Hansen was invited twice to brief Vice President Dick Cheney and other cabinet members on climate change. White House officials were interested in his findings showing that cleaning up soot, which also warms the atmosphere, was an effective and far easier first step than curbing carbon dioxide.
In a talk he gave on Dec 6th, after which started the attempts to silence him, Dr Hansen said that significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles, and that without leadership by the United States, climate change would eventually leave the earth "a different planet." The administration's policy is to use voluntary measures to slow, but not reverse, the growth of emissions. After that speech and the release of data by Dr. Hansen on Dec. 15 showing that 2005 was probably the warmest year in at least a century, officials at the headquarters of the space agency repeatedly phoned public affairs officers, who relayed the warning to Dr. Hansen that there would be "dire consequences" if such statements continued, those officers and Dr. Hansen said in interviews.
There are examples of the censorship of Dr Hansen, although Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, has stated otherwise. In one call, George Deutsch, a recently appointed public affairs officer at NASA headquarters, rejected a request from a producer at National Public Radio to interview Dr. Hansen, said Leslie McCarthy, a public affairs officer responsible for the Goddard Institute. Citing handwritten notes taken during the conversation, Ms. McCarthy said Mr. Deutsch called N.P.R. "the most liberal" media outlet in the country. She said that in that call and others, Mr. Deutsch said his job was "to make the president look good" and that as a White House appointee that might be Mr. Deutsch's priority.

There is more but that about sums up the article posted on the New York Times
The photo is from an article on
It is just ridiculous that they so this, that they try to shut people up... But that is the evil empire for you... God forbid someone disagrees with their views...

Unfortunately this isn't the first I have read about the government influencing the science that reaches the public. In June, 2005, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) distributed a 34-question survey to more than 460 NOAA Fisheries biologists, ecologists, botanists and other science professionals working in headquarters and regional and field offices across the country to obtain their perceptions of scientific integrity within the agency, as well as political interference, resources and morale. To sum that all up:
I. Political Interference with Scientific Determinations

Large numbers of agency scientists reported political interference in scientific determinations:

More than one third of respondents positioned to make such recommendations (37 percent) have "“been directed, for non-scientific reasons, to refrain from making findings that are protective"” of marine life and nearly one in four (24 percent) of those conducting such work reported being "“directed to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information from a NOAA Fisheries scientific document;"”
More than half of all respondents (53 percent) knew of cases where "“commercial interests have inappropriately induced the reversal or withdrawal of scientific conclusions or decisions through political intervention;"” and
More than half of the scientists (58 percent) knew of cases "where high-level U.S. Department of Commerce administrators and appointees have inappropriately altered NOAA Fisheries determinations."” A substantial minority (42 percent) also cited incidents where members of Congress "“inappropriately influenced NOAA Fisheries determinations."”

II. Negative Effect on Wildlife Protection
Only a slim majority of the scientists indicated the agency "“routinely makes determinations using its best scientific judgment, even when political pressure is applied,"” and there is further evidence that political intrusion has undermined NOAA Fisheries"’ ability to fulfill its mission of protecting marine resources:

Nearly two in three (64 percent) did not agree that the agency was effectively protecting populations and habitats of federally listed species, and more than two in three (69 percent) also doubted the agency could effectively aid in recovering threatened and endangered species;
More than two-thirds of agency scientists (69 percent) did not "“trust NOAA Fisheries decision makers to make decisions that will protect marine resources and ecosystems."”

III. Chilling Effect on Scientific Candor

Agency scientists reported being afraid to speak frankly about issues and felt constrained in their roles as scientists:

Two out of five (40 percent) said they could not openly express "concerns about the biological needs of species and habitats without fear of retaliation"” in public, while more than a quarter (29 percent) did not feel they could do so even inside the confines of the agency;
Almost a third (31 percent) felt they are not allowed to do their jobs as scientists; and
A significant minority (18 percent) of scientists reported having "“been directed by NOAA Fisheries decision makers to provide incomplete, inaccurate or misleading information to the public, media or elected officials."

IV. Resources and Morale

There was a broad perception that the agency lacks the resources to accomplish its mission. Not surprisingly, results showed a strain on staff morale:

More than four in five (81 percent) thought that NOAA Fisheries lacked sufficient resources "“to adequately perform its environmental mission;
Three out of five scientists (60 percent) did not feel the agency "“is moving in the right direction."” This is consistent with a response from 46 percent that job satisfaction has decreased over the past few years, compared with half as many (23 percent) who reported an increase in job satisfaction; and
More than two out of five (42 percent) scientists described morale as poor or extremely poor and more than half (56 percent) do not feel that "“upper-management will stand behind"” an employee with a scientifically solid, yet politically controversial position.

Its just amazing, when you think about it... just amazing...

Friday, January 27, 2006

Here's another reason not to buy from Exxon

Apparently ExxonValdez has returned to court again today to make a third appeal at the $5 billion dollar verdict levied against them when they came to trial for that horrific oil spill in Alaska. Pockets of relatively fresh Exxon Valdez oil remain on shorelines as distant as Katmai National Park, about 300 miles from the site where the supertanker disgorged 11 million gallons of crude oil, according to government scientists who presented their studies at a conference this week in Anchorage.

Exxon Mobil, the oil giant created from the merger of Exxon and Mobil in 1999, argues that the spill's effects have long receded and that the fine is unjustified. The company points out that it spent more than $2 billion on the clean-up and shelled out $1.025 billion for a 1991 settlement with federal and state governments. Exxon Mobil has argued in legal motions that the appeals court should reduce Holland's "outlandish judgment" to no more than $25 million.

Along the coastline, debate about the spill's environmental effects continues. According to the group that administers the settlement money paid by Exxon to the governments, only seven of 30 marine species, resources or services have recovered to pre-spill levels. Whether the spill is to blame and whether remnant oil is causing harm remains unsettled.

Stupid f'n Exxon, and Mobile... Don't buy from either... Commute, buy your gas from Citgo and BP, as I have suggested in a prior blog. Its really amazing that they are fighting it, as if paying the settlement would be a fraction of their yearly earnings... The worst part is that money they make lines the pockets of the administration, so its going to be hard to keep siding with the plaintiffs... Eventually they will fight it until Bush says hey judge, you side with Exxon or I will have Dick kill you the way he killed William Rehnquist so I could appoint 2 conservative judges. I think he will say something like that.

And just in case, the postings might come few and far between soon, as I am unable to deal with another corporation that likely feeds the Bush's... COMCAST... Another evil empire... Can you believe the balls, they charge $100 bucks a month for basic basic and internet.... That is just incredible... So, without the net at my house for a while, I may not update as frequently... I apologize ahead of time...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Reefs Cheaper to Protect...

That's right, which makes perfect sense. But the UN Environment Programme has reported that the costs of protecting the decreasing coral reefs and mangrove habitats is minute compared to the eco friendly tourism money that such environments generate. The report, to be issued at a conference in Paris, estimated that intact coral reefs were worth $100,000-$600,000 per sq km (0.3861 sq mile) a year to humankind and a sq km of mangroves $200,000-$900,000 a year. They say these estimates are from fisheries, tourism and shore protection. The report goes on to state that the estimated cost for protecting that same km would be only $775, and relates places like Egypt which 11% of its GNP is from tourism and over a quarter of that tourism is scuba related. Similar cases lie in the Bahamas.

what's really amazing is that it has taken this long before anyone came out with this information. I know also of Caribbean islands are going the way of eco-tourism and thus protecting their habitats (such as the Dominican Republic). It would be amazing if the United States would actually realize this. I mean think, the tragedy of New Orleans would have never happened if we protected marshes and barrier islands. South Florida is going to take a beating with no mangroves along the east coast (although the reefs are still there). But lets just talk about all different habitats we could protect. Much of the Chesapeake becomes anoxic, the same bay which was so abundant for American fisheries for decades. While I am unsure whether or not the economic figures are accurate, I am quite sure they are close.

Things that are encouraging are places like Pennekamp State Park and Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida and the proposed largest no take zone in the United States, a 132,000-square-mile (337,920-square-kilometer) area along a remote 1,400-mile (2,253-kilometer) long string of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

The mangrove photo is from
and the reef photo is from

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Goddamn taxonomy

Well I have not posted in a while and so today I will post some complaints I have with the work I do... Now just to clarify, I like my job... And I understand the work we do is important, and I do not want to sell it short... But I do have serious issues about the way things get identified...

For example, Thor shrimp... My problem is this... Supposedly 2 species occur in the area, Thor manningi and Thor floridanus... The former has a rostrum that is armed but sometimes unarmed and has the 4th pair of walking legs it 3, sometimes 4 or 5, spines, not including the dactyl pair.... The latter is unarmed but can be armed, has 4 or 5 but sometimes 3 spines on the fourth walking leg... Honestly, wtf??? Both can look exactly identical, occur in the same areas and still be different... Who came up with this anyway??? Especially when carridean shrimp can be sexually dimorphic and we rarely, if ever, get gravid T floridanus... I just think its quite possible that they are the same species and want to know how people 100 years and 30 years ago came up with something otherwise...

Similarly Hippolyte shrimp that we get are very much the same... H zostericola and H pleuracanthus exhibit similar rostrums, however, the latter is supposedly much shorter (not extending beyond the antennule scale)... The problem I have with this is that we often get large batches of Hippolyte shrimp... And all the large ones are always H zostericola, and usually over 65% gravid, and all the supposed H pleuracanthus are small, juveniles and never, ever gravid... Again, many carridean shrimp are sexually dimorphic.... I just want to know where these people came up with the separate species (some literature suggests its a mistake that they should be considered the same species)...

And I don't even want to start on mud crabs, which a recent paper suggests through DNA sequencing that they aren't as many species or even genera as we are calling them...

I guess my big problem is that we are trying to identify things that we cannot identify, especially with none of us being carridean shrimp experts... And with all this information that perhaps they are the same that we still have to call them differently really bothers me... But oh well... I am just venting... Needed to post something, so this is it... Now you know a little more about what I do at work....

Friday, January 20, 2006

well here are my picks...

i can't go into great detail bc it is late and im tired, but here it goes.... pittsburg for a number of reasons, but mostly they are too physical... new england turned over the ball 5 times and if it wasn't for 2 bad calls, they still would have one the game (by all calculations they actually won) but i dont think the broncos can handle the steel curtain... plummer is by far much worse than manning and he doenst have any big game exprience... it wont be easy but pitt will win...

for the nfc, this is much harder... i like carolina, they play tough and hit hard... but they put it all on the line last week and got banged up pretty good... i mean yeah peppers will play but he is hurt... i dont thikn goings can handle the heavy duty of being the primary back for the whole game... and its going to be miserable in seattle... wet, cold... and seattle's offense is much much better than a bears offense that scored 21 points... expect big hits, but i think seattle eeks this one out... we shall see...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Speckled worm eel

so today I was pretty excited... While identifying samples for work (that's what I do, collect, sort and identify fauna from seagrass beds), I came across an eel... I was pretty excited, because I have been working there for over a year and I have never come across any eel... So I thought wow, here is this new species for our collection (not a new species, but a species which we haven't encountered yet)... So I was excited, I showed a coworker whose been working there for like 2 years and he was like huh, let me check the collection (every time we come across a new species to our study or a good specimen, we put it into the collection for reference)... Then he said, oh, is it Myrophis punctatus, and I said, dammit it is... My beautiful 186 mm long speckled worm eel would not make it into the collection, for we already have 3... Ah well... Anyways, its pretty cool looking... has the enlarged nostrils, a pointed head, a speckled upper body and oddly arranged dorsal and anal fins...
apparently, it has a broad range of habitats from seagrass beds and mangroves to offshore reefs... and it uses its pointed tail to burrow backwards into the sand...

I know this isn't the most exciting or informative post, but its a post none-the-less, and they cant all be spectacular... At least it gives you a little of an idea of what I do...

Monday, January 16, 2006

Problems up north??

Well, since I have already posted a thread about global warming, I will continue along that theme. This time, however, I will talk about the receding arctic ice. The ice is disappearing, and scientists predict that the Arctic Ocean could be completely devoid of ice during summertime within our lifetimes. This has serious implications for global climate, which I will touch upon later. While scientists are still debating as to whether or not we have passed an ice threshold, there is evidence that suggests that ice cover has been decreasing about 8 percent annually since 1980. There are 2 reasons for this ice decrease, one of which is the increase in global temperature. Data shows that Arctic temperatures have spiked by 2.1 degrees over the last quarter century, which is massive in comparison to the approximately .3 degree increase in lower latitudes. This increase leads to less ice cover in the Arctic, which has serious implications for more ice loss. What happens now, is that there is more open ocean and less ice cover. When there is ample ice, the light color of ice and snow reflect most of the sun's energy back into the atmosphere. However, with more open ocean exposed, its dark color of the water absorbs the heat, preventing ice formation and leading to less ice during the summer months. This is problematic because once the critical point of ice cover is surpassed, even all the efforts aimed toward slowing global warming will not prevent the Arctic from being ice free.
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the melting of the Arctic ice will have serious implications on the global climate. The loss of ice has to be made up somewhere, and even if sea levels do not rise catastrophically, there could be enough dilution of the ocean water to change circulation patterns. This creates a problem, and I won't go into the details here about the ocean circulation, but you should look it up if you don't know enough about it, because ocean circulation is largely responsible for global heat balance. When salinities change, it can alter thermohaline circulation, disrupting currents that bring warm water from the tropics northward toward the Arctic and England. Although the amount of freshwater needed to dilute the ocean enough to change these circulations is great, and melting Arctic ice may not be quite enough, it can contribute significantly, since the water will absorb the sun's heat, the Arctic would become measurably milder during the summer months, which could lead to loss of land ice, and that WILL create problems for ocean circulation. The last cooling period of the earth was caused by such an event, when an ice dam in Canada broke, releasing glacial melt water that diluted the North Atlantic enough to change these circulations, and bring a centuries long period of cooler temperatures throughout Europe. While disappearing Arctic ice may not cause this directly, it could contribute to a similar situation and is something that should be more carefully monitored.
The shame of it is there is a wealth of information supporting global warming and yet the supposed wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world still fails to acknowledge that it exists. And instead of trying to do things to try and help slow or stop these trends, Americans go own wasting like its their jobs, buying gas-guzzling SUVs, trucks and sports cars, running hundreds of household appliances, etc, instead of buying smart appliances, using mass transit and urging representatives to do something about it. Biodesiel is a viable green energy option and instead of mass producing it, Washington would rather pay farmers in the Midwest to not farm, instead of farming corn which could be used to make a biofuel. What are we doing??? I urge all of us to ride a bike or take a bus to work, unplug all household electronics (except your refrigerator which is necessary), but TV,vcrs, computers, microwaves, anything that constantly draws amps, and talking to fellow Americans and writing your congressman. These are things we need to do to solve this problem before it gets any worse.

I used Envirolink and NewScientist as sources and the picture is from Eurekalert

Sunday, January 15, 2006

playoff week 2 is over...

and i am 3 for 4 for the second week in a row... and if the score resembled thee way the game was played out in denver, i would be 4 for 4... dont get me wrong, i hate the pats, as i have mentioned many times, but they outplayed denver in every category... i know you cant have turnovers in the playoffs, and the pats muffed it 5 times... however, they still dominated the game... and the officials blew that game and almost blew another one today... now this is the playoffs, and teams need to beat teams, the officials should not be the deciding factor... but lets talk about 4 key calls the officials missed... on the opening drive, there were 2 non calls... i know its early but football is all about momentum... on second down, when the pats wer whistled for a false start, a broncos lineman ran in and hit brady anyway, and no unsportsmanlike conduct call there... fine, but on 3rd down, the receiver was tackled before the ball even got to him and no call made, and the pats punt... not big calls but prevents any momentum... later in the first quarter, the officials call an interference when there was none, setting up denvers first touchdown... and the fourth and most blatant non call was the champ bailey fumble... he fumbled it out of the endzone, all the replays showed that, the paats should havee gotten the ball back on their own 20 but instead the officials make the wrong call, and denver scores another touchdown... game over...
the officials almost blew another game today, and if vanderjagt did not miss that field goal, it would have been on the officials... troy palumalu intercepted that pass... he made a football move... he dove, caught the ball, rolled over, kept possession, tried to geet up and knocked it out of his own hands, and recovered, thats a catch and a fumble... the official claimd he was never down but thats bullshit, thats like saying a catch is never a catch unless the receiveer is down... all the replays conclusively showed that he had possesion... it was a terrible call, probably the worst i have ever seen and it almost cost the steelers the game, thank god it did not...
so anyway, i was right on 3 of my picks, and i will wait to make predictions until i see the injury reports...however im feeling a wildcard super bowl... we shall see...

Friday, January 13, 2006

some scientific debate

Now I think we can all agree that global warming is taking place... at least I hope we can all agree... the planet is getting warmer, but that is precisely the debate, is it due to natural trends (throughout the earths history, there has been numerous warming and cooling trends), human induced (through the release of greenhouse gases) or both...

A recent article I read from national geopragphic puts some interesting new things to light... methane is a known greenhouse gas, and there are plants that produce methane as a biproduct
apparently, satellite images show large pools of methane over areas such as rainforests, undeveloped lands that should have no signs of methane pollution... and yet there are these pockets with high methane concentrations... scientists used to believe that methane was only produced by plants in low oxygen environments, but now researchers have shown that many species of plants produce methane during normal respiration, and believe that up to 30% of the annual methan input to the atmosphere may be derived from plants...

What does this mean??? well it may help explain why, in the distant, distant past, the earth has exerienced warming and cooling trends over gradual time scales.... but what is also means is that there is another bit of scientific "evidence" that conservatives can use to twist around the global warming debate, which is bad... now the article I linked to above doesn't give too much detail, as it is national geographic, and I haven't had a chance to read the actual peer reviewed journal article... it is quite conceivable that rainforest plants are producing a bunch of methane... but livestock also produces a ton of methane, and many of the earths rainforests are being destroyed for cattle land... that could be a significant contributing factor to these methane pools... who knows, but this is terrible news for environmentalists bc it gives these big business, big oil jerks ammo to say look, trees produce greenhouse gases so we arent doing anything wrong... and thats a problem... we should not even still be debating about global warming, but we are bc those guys have the money to fight all conventional wisdom... and its terrible... but definitely check out the article and make your own judgements...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I'm never going to Australia

well... maybe not never... but it seems more and more dangerous... of course, i always like to go to new places, and i would love to dive on the reef just to see what its like over there... however, everytime i check the dive news, somebody is getting killed by dangerous marinelife over there... its really incredible actually... and if you aren't already reading the cyber diver news network
you should be... its all the news padi and naui don't want you to hear... top divers dying, dive instructers under scrutiny, dive operations that are problematic, etc... anyways, it always seems like once a feew weeks, someone is being fatally attacked by sharks in australia, and every once in a while, its something different... last november, a marine crocodile bit the head off of a diver and recently a box jellyfish killed a bather... the thingn about australia, is that they are pretty near to the marine species hotbed (i believe there are more species of marine fauna in the waters around the philipines than anywhere else in the world, but the sout pacific has an almost as large number)... so with an abundance of species, it is understandable that you can come into contact with so many dangerous marine animals, tiger, white and bull sharks, venemous fish, box jellies, blue ringed octopus...
now, don't get me wrong... i am not telling you to not go to autralia, and im sure that once i get an opportunity i will be on the first plane over there... it just is crazy how many people seem to have fatal encounters with marine animals in their waters... of course, thousands of divers go there evevry year so its a small percentage, probably similar to every where else in the world... maybe it just makes the news more... who knows...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

went to a talk today

now before i start, i cannot promise that i will be posting every day, but since this is new to my and i have nothing better to do at this moment i will try to get at least somehting up here once a day (not that anyone other than tait reads this thing)...

So today I went to a "brownbag lunch talk" similar to the brainwash lectures that southampton used to have (bc im assuming anyone who reads my blog probably knows me)... and it was by
Jim Fourqurean an expert in seagrasses. He talked about nutrient limitations in certain areas around South Florida, around the Florida Keys, Florida Bay, Fort Jefferson and the Gulf. In Florida Bay, which basically sits between the everglades and the keys, there is alot of nitrogen and little phosphorous, making much of Florida Bay P limited. Conversely, sites oceanside of the Keys had higher P, making those sites N limited. (This makes sense, as terriginous sediments closer to land are usually nitrogen rich and phosphorous pour, where as carbonate sediments, occuring more offshore, tend to be the opposite.)

Anyway, his team conducts surveys of the bottom, made maps of bottom cover by the 5 different seagrass species (which is very exciting, for those of use in the more temperate climates we have only 1 species, Zostera marina, although you can count Ruppia I guess bc it is brackish). And it is pretty interesting to look at these maps. Thalassia is the dominant but in certain habitats, like some of the deep water sites, Halophila dominates, and in areas of higher nutrient availability Halodule or Syringodium dominates. He also noticed that in fertilization experiments where there was plenty of Thalassia, that the nutrient availabilty was such that Syringodium and Halodule abandoned their root structure, growing their rhyzomes out of the sediment, up and over the Thalassia canopy. I have actually observed this and it is quite amazing. This is possible, of course due to seagrasses ability to intake nutrients both through the sediments at the rhyzome and from the water column through the blades. He also noticed algal responses in these experiments... but these are not what I want to talk about...

The most interesting work from the talk is one a post-doc of his is doing, Anna Armitage
The cool thing they are looking at is not just the flora response to the added nutrients, but the faunal response as well. This is very interesting work, particularly bc the two sites they chose are very different. One site had very little growth and was nutrient limited. Another site was dense with grass and was not nutrient limited. Through their nutrient addition to the nutrient limited site, they found not only an increase in flora, that is more grass and algal growth, but an increase in animal density. But it wasn't just animal density that changed, but the community as well. Caridean shrimp, and amphipods, both epiphyte grazers, composed a much larger percentage of the community that before the nutrient additions. Sea cucumbers also were in higher abundance, being detrital feeders. Numbers of fish also increases, but this could be for multiple reasons, the increased food (epiphytes, crustaceans) or the increased structure. The intersting site was the second one. There was no significant floral response, and yet the animal densities saw a larger increase and similar community shifts. This raises questions, as to what the animals are responding to, is it a higher nutritional value of the plants, or are there so many animals that they are consuming the epiphytes and microalgae so fast that there are no observed changed in the flora? This creates problems as to how productivity should be addressed, because in this case, biomass is not showing any significant changes in vegetation and yet the animals are showing that something is indeed happening. Whatever is going on, it is something that I am sure will be investigated again, many times, to figure out exactly what it is that the fauna are responding to...

hope that didnt bore anyone too much, i linked to Jim's site, and I am not sure if he has this kind of work up there yet as they are just putting all the data together now....

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

hung like a barnacle

now we all know that barnacles have the highest penis to body size ratio... but this site, OZ reef, puts it best...

Barnacles can extend it's penis up to 30 times the length of its body. Barnacles are sessile and unable to move from their settled location. In order to overcome this motility problem, the barnacle can extend it penis to any near neighbour in order to impregnate them with it's sperm.

so since this is a marine bio page, we will say hung like a barnacle...

Monday, January 09, 2006

since i am a marine biologist...

I can't have all my posts be about football and such... heres some interesting news, maybe not so new news, but all important regardless...

taken from

Invasive Lionfish in Florida ...

Scientists discover evidence for reproduction in Florida waters

During the past few years, a number of exotic marine fishes have been seen and photographed by divers off the Florida coast. The red lionfish (Pterois volitans) is one of the most abundant, and now appears to be established and reproducing off the Florida coast. Since the lionfish is a top predator, it may negatively influence the structure of fish communities in Florida reefs.

The conclusion comes from a recent scientific article published by a team of marine biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Comission and NOAA led by Dr. Ramon Ruiz-Carus.

This is particularly distressing. Introduced exotics have long been a problem plaguing america, sometimes introduced accidentally, sometimes on purpose... and it has recently become a problem with larger super tankers and ballast water. But this specific case is a real disappointment, and I know there are more out there for this same reason. The most likely casue of this introuduction is the pet aquarium fish trade. I hate this because there are so many of us responsible aquarists that get the bad wrap here. Many aquarists are educated, and to an extent environmental and want to bring a piece of nature into their homes... (you may disagree with the environmental part, but many of the fish now in the trade are captive reared/ raised and there are many aquaculture outlets working with marine ornamentals as well) It is terrible that a few people, who either can't handle it because they didn't do enough research or it costs too much money, will release their fish rather than try to find suitable other homes. And then things like this happens, where the realeased populations begin to create problems... I know its happened around the country and I cannot say exact species or locations without further research, I just know I have read about them somewhere. Feel free to give me your opinions...

ok, well...

3 out of 4 ain't bad, but I am not sure what happened with the Giants... I thought it would have at least been close, they just really did not show up for the game... its sad really, all i hope is that eli is very disappointed with this performance and will strive for a better season next year... i am also disappointed in the apparant lack of wanting to play by burress... he didnt run hard all game... the player i feel the worst for is strahan... i mean he did everyhting he could which could possibly (although not probable) could have been his last game... but hey, there are some positives, they need a whole new secondary and dom capers is now available, they could sure use his defensive genius...

now on to this week... I will reiterate again that I absolutely hate the Patriots... I loath them, theres not a player on that team that I like... however, I find it hard to pick against them this weekend... I mean the broncos played good football this season, but we are talking abaout jake plummer here and the Patriots are playing better than any of us want them to be playing... it could be tight, but the Patriots will prevail... As for the Pitt-Indy game, i know everyone is going to pick Indy aand thats exactly why i will pick against them... heres the one thing the steelers have going for them, Indy's starters have essentially been offf for 3 weeks and will be rusty in regards to game speed and play.... not thats its impossible for the colts to blow out the steelers, but if they come out rusty and pitt can jump out to a lead, watch out... because they play physical and will run the ball... if indy comes out ready to play, i mean for 2 quarters john kitna looked like peyton manning, so imagine what peyton can look like... we will have to see... if they watch the tape of the san diego game and get pressure on peyton this game can be a battle... i will go against all convntional wisdom and pick pitt...

In the NFC we will see some battles... CHicago ahs the best D but carolina has the 3rd best... i know chicago beat up the paanthers in the season, but the panthers got momentum, closing the season strong and taking all the wind out of new york last weekend... the bears offense is terrible, and although the giants o wasnt great ending the season they did have arguably the best running back in the game... if the panthers could shut out the giants, it is quite conceivable that it will happen to the bears, whose offense is horrendous... we all know this game will be a defesnive struggle, but if they can establish foster with a few big runs early, look for smith to light up the secondary.... in seattle i cannot say that washington stands a chance... they have all the momentum coming in, sure, but their offense is pretty week, and i think that seattle's offense is just too powerful for the redskins d... they might have some big plays, but it wont be enough... seattle will win this game...

well thats that, pitt, new england, carolina and seattle... you heard it here first....

Saturday, January 07, 2006


My friend jim brough this to my attention so i decided to put it out there... i already knew citgo buys no gas from the middle east i didnt realize it was so many different companies dont use middle eastern oil...

Why didn't George W. , AKA"Dubbya" ,think of this?
Gas rationing in the 80's worked even though we grumbled about it.

It might even be good for us!

The Saudis are boycotting American goods. We should
return the favor. An interesting thought it to boycott their GAS.

Every time you fill up the car, you can avoid putting more money
into the coffers of Saudi Arabia.

Just buy from gas companies that don't import their oil from the Saudis.

Nothing is more frustrating than the feeling that every time I fill-up the tank, I am sending my money to people who
are trying to kill me, my family, and my friends.

I thought it might be interesting for you to know which oil
companies are the best to buy gas from and which major companies
import Middle Eastern oil (for the period 9/1/00 - 8/31/01):

Shell................ .......205,742,000 barrels

Chevron/Texaco....... 144,332,000 barrels

Exxon /Mobil............. 130,082,000 barrels

Marathon/Speedway.. 117,740,000 barrels

Amoco................ 62,231,000 barrels

If you do the math at $30/barrel, these imports amount to over $18 BILLION!

Here are some large companies that do not import Middle Eastern oil:

Citgo....................0 barrels

Sunoco............. ..0 barrels

Conoco............. ..0 barrels

Sinclair............... 0 barrels

BP/Phillips.......... 0 barrels

Hess...................0 barrels

All of this information is available from the Department of
Energy and each is required to state where they get their oil
and how much they are importing.

They report on a monthly basis. Keep this list in your car; share
it with friends.
Jesus walks into a hotel, puts three large nails down on the counter,
and says, "Can you put me up for the night?"

Thursday, January 05, 2006

my first blog, playoffs

Well, here it is, my first blog... and I am going to talk about the NFL playoffs, just because they start Saturday and I am not sure what else to talk about... Most of the time I will probably talk about science, scuba diving, marine life, etc, but I will also be talking about sports from time to time, especially during the football playoffs and baseball season ( I no longer follow basketball since the knicks got rid of all my favortie players, and hockey, well is hockey)...

DISCLAIMER: I am no expert, these are my opinions, please keep in mind and dont take anything I say and use it for personal reasons (ie gambling)...

So here it is, this weekends matchups... In the AFC we have Jacksonville at New England and Pittsburg at Cincinatti... First, I will say that I hate the Patriots... And I don't really know what it is... I just plain down like them... I rooted for them when they played the Rams, but then they kept winning... I guess I hate teams that win all the time and always root for the underdogs... And maybe its that they don't have any rock-star personalities, basically I DON'T LIKE THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS... that said, they should beat the Jaguars... not just bc its a warm weather team playing in cold, cold foxboro, but because maybe Byron Leftwich shouldn't be playing, hes good, but this guy Garrard has been playing well... and I just don't think they can hack it against the Pats, as much as don't want them to win... in the other game... its hard to call... the Bengals played and showed they can at least keep up with the best (the shootout at the colts, and theey did beat the Steelers in Pitt)... But Pitt woke up and played their physical style of football, one that the Bengals couldn't handle in the first game... the question here is can the Steelers secondary hold up against the Bengals recievers and can their line get to Palmer... I say yes, and as long the Steelers establish the running game early, this will be a no contest... it will be close, and I think the Steelers will prevail... so this weekend the AFC the Pats and the Steelers both win

Thee NFC is also a tough call... The Skins play at Tampa Bay... the Redskins have been playing good football of late (their defense incredible and Clinton Portis pounding in the running game)... while Tampa has played fairly well all season they did have a few letdowns and I don't think Simms is ready for the playoffs... he will be good for sure, but I think the Skins take this one, much as I'd hate to say it... Now to the Giants-Panthers... First I will say it here, I am a bleed blue and red Giants fan... and perhaps my take on this game will be biased, but all opinions are biased to I don't really care... The Giants have tons of question marks, and the Panthers have a good D... but the Giants will win this in a close game, here is why... Despite Pierce still being out, the Panthers do not have a very good running game, and the safeties won't have to play up as much to protect against the run... which means they can double up on Smith and hopefully prevent the big game that receivers have had against them the last two weeks... Delhomme throws a good number of picks as well, and with a poor running game, the front four of the Giants will be able to bring the pressure, especially Strahan who is more determined than ever and Umenyiora will eat him up... their offense is the question mark here... Manning is probably not ready for the playoffs either, but as long as they establish Tiki early ( who should have been the MVP) and Manning gets one big play to anyone early, it will set the tone, give him confidence and get the crowd involved... And remember the Giants never lose at home... it will be close but the G-men come out on top... so the NFC east prevails this weekend, SKins and Giants...

Tune in next week to see if I was right or not...

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