What’s in a name? Game: “Fishy” Fourth of July Edition

Can you match the scientific name to each of the fish from this Independence Day-themed trio? Leave your answer as a comment. Even better … also, try to identify each one by their common name.

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Have a happy and safe Fourth of July, everyone!

My favorite posts from 2013

One of the highlights of 2013 for me was gathering the family and neighbors to put in storm drains signs. Learn more on why it's important to know what's going down the drain here: http://beachchairscientist.com/2013/03/01/and-that-concludes-my-we-affect-what-goes-in-our-watershed-week/

One of the highlights of 2013 for me was gathering the family and neighbors to put in storm drains signs. Learn more on why it’s important to know what’s going down the drain here: http://beachchairscientist.com/2013/03/01/and-that-concludes-my-we-affect-what-goes-in-our-watershed-week/

This isn’t the typical list of the most popular Beach Chair Scientist posts throughout the year (you can find those on the right sidebar under “Top Posts & Pages from BCS” any day of the year). Those posts typically include questions typed into a search bar such as ‘Are manatees and elephants really related?‘, ‘Do sharks have bones?’ or ‘How much salt is in the ocean?’.  This list is a review of my favorite posts from the past year and why I enjoyed them:

  • 99 reasons I’m in Limulus Love: Before the horseshoe crabs started mating in May and June I sat down and cataloged a list of 99 reasons Limulus polyphemus are a creature worth respecting.
  • All five posts from the “What we do affects our watershed week: This series was a great reminder that even though you might not live anywhere near a river, lake, or stream our daily actions have massive consequences on the waterways – and ultimately the ocean.
  • Mother Nature vs. Santa Claus: 13 reasons why Mother Nature should always win: This post was a response to the Toys ‘R’ Us commercial that pitted nature against toys. It’s important to remember what Mary Catherine O’Connor with Outside Magazine stated as the “tremendous value to childhood development (as well as to self-awareness, health and confidence) that is spending time in the natural world and trying to understand how it works”.
  • A seal on the shore isn’t always stranded: This post is a nice reminder to stay back and let nature takes its course, also you never know what you’ll come across during a wintry beach walk.
  • 3 truths on the fables about dolphin-safe labels: It was an eye-opening post to write and discover that just because it’s labeled as dolphin-safe it isn’t safe for all marine life.
  • A Scientist’s Inspiration (by Jim McElhatton): This interview with Dr. Penny Chisholm, recipient of the National Medal of Science, should be a must read for anyone in school with even a slight interest in science as she explains how “My interest in science grew slowly as I went through school”. She also explains the merits of writing for children in that it helps to boil down the subject matter.
  • Beach Chair Birding, A Ray of Hope in a Sea of Chum, A Visit from Dungeness Crab: These posts are three of my favorites because they were all contributed by guest bloggers. Ernie Wilson, Jim Wharton, and Cherilyn Jose each brought a perspective as unique as they are … I can’t wait to see what they’ll share next year! If you’re interested in guest blogging please feel free to share your ideas anytime!

Jellyfish protein help create glow-in-the-dark ice cream

Looks like seaweed isn’t the only ocean organism used to make ice cream a special treat these days, particularly if its glow-in-the-dark ice cream. Charlie Francis, British ice cream creator, partnered with a Chinese scientist interested in understanding the nuances of jellyfish proteins, to synthesize the fluorescent jellyfish protein specifically for use as part of an ice cream flavor. Francis and his partner recreated the luminescent protein to construct a specialized calcium-activated protein that only glows in the dark once you lick it. And, the more you lick it the more it glows. No jellyfish were harmed in the making of this ice cream flavor. Is it safe to taste? Francis tasted it and said “I tried some and I don’t seem to be glowing anywhere” How much is a scoop? $220. Would you try it?

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Check out the ‘Lick Me, I’m Delicious’ Facebook page to learn more about all of Francis’ creations here: https://www.facebook.com/lickmeimdelicious

Under normal, non-dairy related circumstances, jellyfish protein glow when the photoprotein aequorin interacts with seawater to produce a light (i.e., green florescent protein or GFP). Why do animals and plants glow in the dark? Find out here.

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GFP was first described in 1955.

Test your knowledge: Marine mammals

SeasideNaturalistCoverIt’s time for another “Test your knowledge” quiz. This time it’s brought to you by page 211 of one of my favorite books, Seaside Naturalist (written and illustrated by Deborah Coulombe). Here’s a true/false quiz all about those marine mammals we all know and love … well, take the quiz and see how well you know them. First 3 people to submit all correct answers below as comments (before I post the correct answers in a week) will get a free DVD of Ocean Frontiers.

1. Whales sweat profusely while diving.
2. The blue whale is the largest animal ever known on Earth.
3. Whales can drown.
4. Whales can be told apart by the way they spout.
5. Whales never sleep.
6. Baby whales are born tail first.
7. When whales breach, they jump completely out of the water.
8. Whales spout by blowing water out of their blowhole.
9. In Japan, dogs eat whales meat.
10. Manatee are the only vegetarian marine mammals.

Know anyone that might want to share a passion a marine science, environmental education, or ocean conservation by writing for Beach Chair Scientist? Guest posting is always welcome!

5 photography contests for nature lovers

If you’re anything like me, you love to snap pictures when you’re outside. It’s a great way to relive the tranquility you get from being outdoors once placed back into reality. It’s also a powerful way to share how you see the world and what matters to you with those near and far!

In an effort to evoke that everlasting sense of appreciation for nature, many environmental organizations engage the public with photo contests – usually with epic prizes.  Here are 5 photography contests that might spark you’re inner Ansel Adams:

Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) Photo Contest: CBF is are seeking photographs (from professional or amateur photographers) that illustrate the positive aspects of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams.
Deadline: April 12, 2013
Prize(s): First Prize: $500; Second Prize: $250; Third Prize: $150; Viewers’ Choice: $100. In addition, the first-prize photograph will appear in CBF’s 2014 calendar. And that’s not all: All winners will also receive a one-year membership to CBF and will have their photos displayed on CBF’s website, in a CBF e-newsletter, and in CBF’s Save the Bay magazine.

Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) Earth Day Photo & Essay Contest: From April 22-29, students in grades 5-8 should take a photograph of something that is changing in their local environment, then submit the photo and explanation.
Deadline: May 10, 2013
Prize(s): In addition to having their photos featured on the IGES website, the top three winners will receive a digital camera, digital photo frame, and a digital photo keychain. Also, the top 10 winners will receive a photo book featuring the top 10 photos, with his or her photo on the front cover.

National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Wildlife Photo Contest: Photographers of all skill levels ages 13 and up are invited to enter the 43rd annual National Wildlife® Photo Contest.
Deadline: July 15, 2013
Prize(s): Winners could be featured in an upcoming issue of National Wildlife® magazine, alongside images taken by the world’s top nature photographers and could win a once-in-a-lifetime expense-paid trip for two to photograph polar bears, cash prizes and more!

Nature’s Best Photography (NBP) Windland Smith Rice International Awards: The editors of Nature’s Best Photography magazine invite all photographers (professionals, amateurs, and youth) to celebrate the beauty and diversity of nature through the art of photography, and to use this far-reaching medium as a creative tool for encouraging greater public interest in outdoor enjoyment and conservation stewardship.
Deadline: May 15, 2013 (Note that there may be an entry fee for submission)
Prize(s): Winners in each category and a selection of the Highly Honored photos will be displayed as large-format prints in the annual exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., one of the most widely respected and highly visited museums in the world. In addition, all of the winning images will be published in the Fall/Winter 2013 Collectors’ Edition of NBP.

Picture Our Planet Photo Contest: The Rainforest Alliance is pleased to announce the launch of the 2013 Picture Our Planet photo contest. This year’s contest celebrates sustainable tourism and the power of images to capture the world’s most beautiful places.
Deadline: June 30, 2013
Prize(s): One grand prize winner will receive an eight-day, seven-night trip for two to Costa Rica. Also, one winner will be selected from each of the six categories and will Polaroid high-definition pocket digital video camcorder and an honorary one-year membership at the $100-level to the Rainforest Alliance.

Have fun and good luck! If you’re in need on some inspiration, feel free to check out the pictures I’ve taken while out and about on my Flickr account (below is my attempt at being artsy with driftwood).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/beachchairscientist/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/beachchairscientist/

 

Merry Christmas!

I just want to extend a simple wish for a safe holiday! Here is an image of a driftwood ‘tree’ that my daughter and nephews decorated with clam shells.

Image (c) Jim McElhatton

Image (c) Jim McElhatton

“A song, a song, high above the trees,
With a voice as big as the sea,
With a voice as big as the sea,
Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
do you know what I know,
In your palace warm, mighty king,
do you know what I know?
A Child, a Child shivers in the cold,
Let us bring Him silver and gold,
Let us bring Him silver and gold,
Said the king to the people everywhere,
listen to what I say,
Pray for peace, people everywhere!

Lyrics from one of my favorite holidays tunes “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

It’s a happy holidays giveaway

Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms by Richard Fortey

Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms by Richard Fortey

Let your heart be light … It’s officially the holiday season! I am seeing twinkling lights throughout the neighborhood, trees trimmed in the window, and I seem to be baking up a storm.

It’s also my favorite time of year to tell those around me how much I appreciate them. If you read this blog, ‘like’ Beach Chair Scientist on Facebook, or ‘follow’ Beach Chair Scientist on Twitter you’re certainly keeping me going and I am very grateful for your support. It’s been a fantastic adventure answering your questions and creating entertaining and educational answers. Also, it’s such a pleasure each time I (virtually) meet new people that continually inspire me.

From now until the end of Wednesday, December 12th I’ll throw your name into another giveaway to win a copy of the New York Times best seller, Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms by Richard Fortey, if you 1) comment on any post here or 2) comment on any post on Facebook or 3) retweet any content on Twitter (@bcsanswers). Each time you comment or retweet will be another chance to win. The book is an incredible gift for the natural history buff on your list or even for yourself!

Update (12/13/2012): Thanks to Random Picker for helping make the raffle so efficient! The winner of Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms is a Twitter follower! Thank you to everyone that participated your support means the world!

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Monday Inspiration: Persian Ceiling by Dale Chihuly

This past weekend I took a road trip to Richmond, VA and was thrilled to be introduced to the ethereal artistry of the glassworks created by Dale Chihuly at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. In particular from this exhibit, the piece ‘Persian Ceiling‘ is an experience I wanted to share. As I gazed up into the illuminated glass ceiling with the gleaming and luminescent art densely piled up (practically to the sky!),  I was certain I had been transformed to another point in time.

It was as if I was witness to the Great Barrier Reef at its apex in species diversity and brilliance of color. I wondered how he created such movement in still objects – spectacular! No doubt I was head-over-heels impressed due to the beautiful daylight that was paired with the exhibit space. I also found it incredibly playful how Chiluly interspersed echinoderms, mollusks, and cephalopods to give the illusion that you’re indeed walking under the sea (see if you can spot them in the images below). If you have the opportunity, you cannot go wrong with investigating the work of Chihuly. If you’re lucky enough to see his work first hand, it will surely brighten your day and have your feeling inspired.

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Images (c) Beach Chair Scientist

5 ocean-themed kid costumes from Etsy

It’s not too late to find a costume for your little one to show-off a growing love of the ocean for this Halloween! Here are five adorable costumes I found on Etsy that are worth some serious consideration. (The only reason I was looking was because I keep checking to see if anyone has made a horseshoe crab costume yet, no luck.)

Anglerfish from Pip and Bean

Fish from Laurie’s Gift

Orca from Pip and Bean

Tiger shark from Laurie’s Gift

Shark from Cute and Comfy Costumes

… and 2 bonus costumes for the canine family member.

Dog seahorse from hatzforbratz

Dog shark from Sew Dog Gone Creative

What they’re into … with Jessica Servis (Reach Program for US Sailing)

 

And so it concludes, this is the last installment of the “What Marine Conservationists Are Into …” series. This is a series I featured this summer to get a special sneak peek at the many different personalities behind the scientists, activists, and educators (including bloggers) who play an integral role in the marine science conservation field. It’s essentially an extension of the overwhelmingly popular and well done Tumblr blog, This Is What A Scientist Looks Like, (BCS was featured in April of 2012!) which sets out to illustrate that scientists are not just crazy haired nerds in lab coats. I sent a list of 15 random questions and asked that each person share at least their answers to 5 of them.

Rounding out the esteemed group is Jessica Servis, a fellow Cape May County comrade. I love her quote at the end of the biography – It’s all about the little things. Thank you to everyone that participated in this series. It’s been an honor getting to know you all!

Jessica Servis run the Reach Program at US Sailing, educating youth in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) and Environmental Stewardship while utilizing sailing as the platform. The Reach Program is currently piloting the program at Community Boating Center in Providence, Rhode Island, the Edison Sailing Center in Fort Myers Florida, New England Science and Sailing in Stonington, Connecticut, Clearwater Community Sailing in Clearwater, Florida, and Sail Sand Point in Seattle, Washington.

Jessica has a Masters in Special Education from Rowan University, an undergraduate degree in Marketing and Public Relations. She has waitressed, bartended, worked in public relations in Atlantic City, taught kids with special needs in grades 1-8 at Oceanside Charter School in Atlantic City, started a non-profit and sailed competitively in college at Salisbury University. Jessica home schooled her oldest son for 2 years and loved every moment of traveling and learning together. She couldn’t be happier to work from home for US Sailing on the Reach program part time creating programs for youth nationwide. She loves to travel and learn new things. Jessica is mom to three wonderful little boys; Tristan 11, Caleb 5, and Nolan 3. One of her favorite things to do is spend time with them. They are all inspired by the sea and its creatures.

Jessica states, “As a special education teacher I have a passion for education, but what I love the most is teaching children to appreciate the little things. It is amazing what kids can learn from a walk on the beach, or day on the water. They hold those moments dear to their heart for ever.”

What is the last thing you bought that you shouldn’t have?
New black T-strap high heels, I am a flip flops kind of girl, I should embrace it.

What is your favorite fruit flavor?
Blueberry. I love Jersey Fresh homemade jersey blueberry jam.

What is your favorite Sunday breakfast?
My favorite Sunday breakfast is a cup of coffee and a walk on the beach.

What’s your favorite midnight snack?
Popcorn.

Are you a night owl or a morning person?
I am a morning person. I love to see the sunrise. There is something about the smell of daybreak by the water, it cleanses your soul.

What is your favorite room in your home?
The kitchen, I love to cook, especially with my little helpers.

Which sitcom character do you relate to?
I don’t watch television very much, but I would say Elaine from Seinfeld.

What is your favorite scent?
New England in the morning

What is your favorite sundae topping?
Rainbow jimmies (not Sprinkles)

What is your favorite pastime?
Sailing with kids and adults with special needs. I was the former Executive Director of Just-Sailing and we focused on accessible sailing. I wish I could start another program that focused on teaching people with special needs how to sail. The feeling of freedom and independence on the water is contagious.

What three things would you take with you to an island?
A fishing pole, a seine net, and a bucket. You never know what you might find.

How superstitious are you?
Not at all

What is your favorite day of the week?
Sunday, it’s family day. In the summer we spend Sunday’s at the beach with all of my cousins and their children. We order pizza, swim, fish, surf, build sand castles, collect shells, and laugh a lot.

Are you a cat person, dog person, or neither?
I am a dog person. Our dog Blue, (yes, like Blue’s Clues) is a black lab, she loves the boat and beach as much as I do.

If you were a geometric shape, what would you like to be?
I would be a pyramid; I have a strong foundation, with many different areas of interest. I work hard to achieve new heights never changing my foundation, always adding to it.

What’s some other random favorite information about you?
I learn something from every person that I meet. People are very interesting creatures especially the Beach Chair Scientist.