Monday, December 31, 2012

A look back at 2012

It's New Year's Eve and, with 2013 bearing down on us, I thought it would be fun to look back at the top 10 posts from 2012!

I'm really glad to revisit this post. I mean, who doesn't love a Christopher Walken reference, am I right? Plus the opportunity to learn a little bit more about chitin, which makes up the second most abundant biomass on Earth, was too good to pass up.

a snow crab brain!

I'd like to think that this post was so popular because of the awesome snow crab brain picture, but I'm pretty sure it got a lot of hits from my proud parents since it was the first post after my successful defense. Thanks Mom and Dad!

8. Boo!

I learned about the not-so-small ghost fishing problem we have here in Alaska at the Marine Science Symposium and shared the info with you. You guys must have been impressed by either (A) the number of derelict pots estimated out in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea or (B) my Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoon.

 ghost fishing! (yuck-yuck-yuck)

I'm not surprised this post was up there: learning the difference between my dear sweet snow crabs Chionoecetes opilio and the red-eyed Tanner crabs Chionoecetes bairdi is probably the most important thing you'll learn all year. Or ever.

a pea crab

Do you know what's more fun than finding a mussel in your mussel shell? Finding a pea crab in your mussel shell! I haven't found one yet, but I'm not giving up hope. (This post was "part 2" because I was drawn to the pea crab phenomenon by looking up recipes of mussels or clams stuffed with crab meat, which in itself was inspired by the shellback crab. My mind: it's a strange, happy, crabby place!)

Insulamon palawanense aka the most beautiful crab!

New species are always exciting to find, especially when we start thinking we know everything about this planet. So four species blew my mind, and yours, apparently. (I also liked the picture of I. porculum, but that's because I'm a ham. Haha!)

Does anyone else love animals with common names referring to other animals? Because I sure do, and the sheep crab is no exception!

a sheep crab with a sea hare

If you haven't read this post, do yourself a favor and click the link. This poor turtle's story is... just ridiculous.

This post is pretty self-explanatory and was inspired by an Alaska Marine Science Symposium talk on paralytic shellfish poisoning (and Gordon Ramsay, in a roundabout way). I eat a lot of Dungies so I wanted to both learn more about PSP and share the information with you.

Look at you, nerds! The top post from 2012 was a chemistry lesson on ocean acidification! I've never been so proud of my readership as I am at this moment!

my cartoon on carbon dioxide uptake and how that affects the ocean's chemistry

Thank you for reading Snow Crab Love and
have a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

a sweet victory for bitter crabs

I recently visited family in Illinois and, while flying there, talked with a fellow passenger about bitter crab disease and the prevalence of it in southeast Alaskan Tanner crabs (Chionoecetes bairdi). In one area, the parasitic dinoflagellate affected 95% of the crabs, and that was back in 1987! Lately some southeast Alaskan populations had 100% of their primiparous females infected (Sherry Tamone talked about that at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in 2011). Bitter crab is a problem in Alaska, but it is also affecting fisheries off Virginia and along the eastern coastal US, as well as in crab hatcheries in China and lobster populations in Scotland! What is causing this, and how is it spreading? What can fishermen do to quell the infection rate? And how can processors assist the fishermen in this effort?

 an infected Tanner crab (top) with milky hemolymph
and a healthy Tanner (bottom) with translucent hemolymph

Lots of questions, I know. Scientists have been feverishly researching Hematodinium sp, the dinoflagellate that is wreaking havoc on commercial crab species. A group of crab scientists at VIMS were able to trace the life history of Hematodinium sp. "[W]e can now really start picking the life cycle apart to learn what the organism does and how it functions," said Jeff Shields.

(Jeff Shields, VIMS)

The researchers noticed a pattern of development time in the dinoflagellate that correlates with cycles of infection in the field and molting of blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus). This knowledge enables them to make suggestions, at least in the realm of aquaculture, on how to avoid the spread of bitter crab by minimizing any effects the parasite could have on crabs during certain periods of both host and parasite life cycles. It seems small, but it's an important victory 15 years in the making in the battle against bitter crab disease!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

And the winner is:


Oh man, this mug give-away was pretty entertaining! I posted the give-away here, on the Snow Crab Love Facebook page, and my own personal one. The most-delicious award for what they would put in the mug goes to Alaska.Jelly.Bean: cocoa and Bailey's! But my mom and sister tried to bribe me for mugs (just shameful, ladies), then there was this wackiness on my home page:

You may not have caught all of that, but this was my favorite addition:

a portrait of Jon Richar, put together by Rhys S. C. Smoker

Needless to say, Rhys won the mug based on sheer number of comments! Well done, sir. Well done. I entered everyone's names into an Excel spreadsheet from all locations, then uploaded it into R. Here's how that panned out:

Truth be told, I ran this a few more times (about 10 or so...) and it took 6 times before a different name popped up. So Rhys, you really earned it!

"I am a champion!" - ^ this cat ^ (and Rhys)

I'll be back later this week with more crab trivia. Congratulations and thanks again to everyone who entered!

Monday, December 3, 2012

'Tis the Season!

With Thanksgiving behind us and all the winter holidays in front of us, I am in a very thankful and giving mood. I'm thankful for all the Snow Crab Love followers, both here and on Facebook. I'm pretty impressed that this little crab blog has had over 87,000 page views from all over the world!

To say "Thanks" and "Happy Holidays", I'm giving away a Snow Crab Love mug! That's right, this bad boy could be yours:

You may have seen the mugs before being held by me:

and my advisor:

chillin' on Raphaelle Descouteaux's desk:

or with Captain Picard (from here):

Would you like your own? Here's the deal:
  1. Comment on this post! Let me know what you'd put in your mug. Coffee? Tea? Wine? (No, I've never done that with my own mug...) Or would you go a little less traditional: pens and pencils? Buttons? Crab exoskeletons or eyestalks? (I'm looking at you, Sherry.)
  2. Your name will be entered into a spreadsheet for each comment, either here or on Facebook. You have to be a follower or have 'liked' Snow Crab Love in order to be entered. The winner will be randomly selected from that list. I'm planning on using R for that because I'm a huge nerd.
  3. Giveaway closes: Sunday December 9th at midnight Alaskan time
  4. Prize ships: Anywhere! That being said, please be patient if you live outside the U.S. Shipping from Juneau is a slow process even to get to the lower 48, much less internationally.
 Good Luck and Happy Holidays!

These mugs were paid for by North Pacific Research Board (funding awarded to Sherry Tamone) as part of the community outreach I've done with the blog to help spread the word about snow crabs and crab love. Thank you, NPRB!