Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sea-themed bookmarks

You know those days when you're fishing but all you seem to catch is algae? Frustrating, but instead of throwing all that green goodness back, save some for this little craft!

Algae Bookmarks

algal crab love

You will need:
watercolor paper
extra paper, a couple cloths, and heavy books
shipping tape (or a laminator if you're fancy)

1. Cut your watercolor paper to size, then submerge in water (this makes it easier to manipulate the algae)

2. Arrange the algae on your paper (tweezers help with intricate designs)

it took a little finagling to get the "Z" just right

and see how the crab has green eyes, just like an opie!?!

3. Place bookmarks between cloths to dry, protecting the algae design with your extra paper, and keeping everything flat with the weight of your heavy books

4. Once dry (maybe 1 - 2 days depending on whether or not you live in a temperate rain forest), laminate and enjoy!

these were made at NOAA as examples for
Sea Week and Discovery Southeast activities 

more examples - see my little crab?

Let me know what kind of designs you come up with!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mo' lobster, mo' problems?

When I worked for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, one of my jobs was to catch and tag lobsters in Long Island Sound. With each lobster I handled, I'd wish it a "Good luck! Make babies!" Maybe they've been doing that in Maine too, because apparently the lobster population is BOOMING up there! Which is super exciting, right?

"I don't know what they want from ME.
It's like the more lobsters we come across,
the more problems we see."

I recently came across an article by R. W. A. Rodger writing for Canadian Marine Publication titled "American Lobster: Management Success and Market Calalmity". Rodger outlines the struggle between a large lobster population and a depressed economy. It's partially a problem of supply and demand: with such a large supply, the demand isn't as high, and the price of lobster has fallen. In his article, the price per pound is dropping below the cost of the fishery (think fuel, labor, bait, etc.), making it difficult for fishermen to even get out on the water.

all dressed up and no where to go
(photo from here)

So how can this be fixed? Some are saying to limit the fishery to decrease the supply of lobster into the market. But others are worried that, with a lower total allowable catch will come greater population growth, and the "problem" of a super-healthy population will be exacerbated. Another option is to open up recreational lobster fisheries, but honestly, who wants to be a weekend warrior against these guys:

OK, so these guys look pretty nice,
but they're not all so... friendly

What do you think Maine should do? I suggest you go out, buy some lobster, and think it over. Let me know what you come up with!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Flamingos for Father's Day?

Yes, I realize it's weird to talk about flamingos on a crab blog. And I also realize it's weird to bring up pink flamingos specifically for Father's Day. But you know what? I'm weird, and so is my dad! (See here for video proof.)

You see, I grew up with 3 older sisters - that's 5 girls total (including my mom) in a house with 1 full bath! So my dad decided to call dibs on the basement bathroom for his own peace and quiet. To decorate this oh-so-manly half bath, he painted it pink and adorned it with a pink flamingo lawn ornament and pink flamingo plunger! (There may have been other flamingo-themed things in there, but those two stick out in my memory.)

pink flamingos on parade
(here they come, hippity hoppity)

Why flamingos? I don't know. BUT I do know why flamingos are pink: they eat BRINE SHRIMP (Artemia sp.)! Crustacean connection!!

salty fellows: Artemia salina

The thing in these little brine shrimp that makes flamingos so pink is astaxanthin, a carotenoid (pigment) that also turns crabs red and salmon flesh, well, salmon. Ben Daly figured that out when he was raising all those little baby red king crabs (Paralithodes camtschaticus) in Seward, AK: hatchery-reared red king crabs weren't as red as wild-caught kings, but diets supplemented with astaxanthin changed their carapace hues, and increased their survival! And increased survival is always a good goal for your kids hatchlings, right dads?


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Faster than a speeding bullet!

I think we all know by now just how awesome mantis shrimp are when it comes to their incredible eyes, their yearly monogamy (see here), and their incredible strength with their modified claws:

Here are some new statistics on the peacock mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus) from David Kisailus' lab at Univeristy of California, Riverside to rock your world:

  • the mantis shrimp's fist can move up to 72 km/hr (That's faster than your average cat, and about the same speed as an African wild dog. But remember, a mantis shrimp is underwater!)
it's a tie!

  • the fist reaches the above speed by accelerating faster than a .22-calibre bullet
(any Arrested Development fans out there?)

  • moving that quickly, the water around a mantis shrimp's fist BOILS! Really!!
cavitation bubbles forming
(the arrows point to 'em in panels E, F, and G)

Mind, consider yourself blown!

(David Kisailus is hoping to mimic the strength of mantis shrimps' fists to produce body armour that could withstand 50,000 bullets!  Thanks, Miranda, for the mantis facts!)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The sea otter debate

Dungeness crabs are important animals for fishermen up here in southeast Alaska. However, there is increasing concern that fishermen are going to have to compete more and more with another predator: the sea otter! Students at UAF are looking into this relationship between predators and their prey (mentioned briefly here), and had an opportunity to make a short film about the potential conflict.

What do you think?