Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Crab Weddings

( from an Oregon travel ad)

I love weddings. Love them! And it's not just because my wedding was the happiest day of my life, or that my oldest friend's wedding was the most fun I've ever had. (That link will bring you to the FLASH MOB my husband, my sister, my parents, the whole bridal party, and most of the guests participated in!!!)

It's because of the celebration of love FOOD! Bacon-wrapped sausage, sockeye salmon, Dungeness crab, oysters, cupcakes, s'mores - it's all so good! So, because I've been inspired by all the celebrations of two people becoming a family, here I present some crustacean-themed wedding inspiration:

If you're lucky enough to live near water, fresh seafood is always welcome at any event (unless your family has any allergies... maybe you should check that before serving an all-crab buffet...).

steamed blue crabs can take a crab boil up a classy notch or two

You know how I feel about Dungies - if you can serve them freshly
(and properly) prepared like at this Pacific Northwest wedding, then go for it!

I love that not only did they serve lobster, but this couple really embraced
the glamour that comes with a lobster bib

And if eating crab just isn't your thing, maybe you can work in a costume or two like this amazing couple:

the groom and his friends surprised the bride with a "Little Mermaid" rendition 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Talk about brain freeze!

This poor little Chionoecetes crab was wondering around the sea floor, minding his own business, when something tempting bubbled up in front of him, just begging to be eaten. Little did he know that it was actually a methane seep. Little did I know that methane bubbles, at that depth and pressure, could become frozen solids! The skin of the methane bubbles, methane hydrate, froze to the crabs chela and mandibles as the crab was trying out this strange new treat frozen gas bubble.

The video, captured by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, is a little dry (which is surprising for an underwater video! Hey-oh!) but if you wait about 1 minute into the video, you'll see the little gas-mustachioed crab:

You can almost hear him going, "What the!?!?" Luckily it looks like he can still move his mouth parts and has full use of his claws, so hopefully this has just taught him to be a little less adventurous when trying new foods.

PS - I'm not entirely sure, but I'm willing to bet that this guy is a Chionoecetes tanneri, or grooved Tanner crab. (Thanks for making me guess, MBARI! You know how I am with scientific names!) The clues? Thanks to my Biological Field Techniques for Chionoecetes Crabs (Jadamec et al., 1999), I first looked at the way the crab's sides jutted out.

"oh, hi!"

We can tell that he's not Chionoecetes opilio or C. bairdi because his branchial region sticks out farther than the area below, called the lateral margin. Next, his carapace has a deep notch in the branchial ridge as opposed to a shallow one with a little spine in the middle on C. angulatus or a super shallow interspace on C. japanicus.

You can even make a T (for tanneri) by putting an imaginary line across the top of his branchial ridge:

see it?

What do you think? Either way, he's a cute crab with one heck of a story to tell his friends!

(Thanks to Ashwin Sreenivasan for the link!)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Krill Kill

One of the awesome things about my job is getting to interact with scientists who are working all over Alaska. Barrow is hosting some scientists right now, and they've been kind enough to share some photos taken in July.

nothing says summer like sea ice on the beach!

The researchers witnessed a neat feeding frenzy near Plover Point involving that most ubitquitous of crustaceans: krill!

 check out those chromatophores!

You may remember seeing krill in this post from Antarctica and in this post from the Gulf of Alaska. They are EVERYWHERE! And just about every marine animal seems to benefit from them in one way or another.

krill-filled water

What made this frenzy special was these krill were washing up dead on shore, so the birds were scooping 'em up right by the beach.

"nom nom nom" - Sabine's gull

Why were they washing up dead? Were they poisoned? Was the water hypoxic? No! Let's not sensationalize this, OK people? Since the ice had retreated from this area and the wind was just right, fresh water may have been pushed out from Elson Lagoon around Plover Point and shocked the little marine critters. The birds just happened to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of it!

Plover Point is right on the edge where Elson Lagoon and the Beaufort Sea meet

"I'll take my krill on the rocks, please."

The scientists just happened to be there too for some beach seine surveys. Hooray for great timing!

a beach seine topped by krill as they are washed ashore