Penguins and pebble proposals

Have you seen this floating around the internet these days “33 Awesome Marriage Proposals You Couldn’t Say No To“? Well, I’m a romantic so I read them all and boy was I excited when I made it to #32 … all about that cute and fluffy flightless bird, the penguin. Check out the image below:


I was a little annoyed at the generalization (not all penguin species participate in this practice), but then remembered the point of the article is sharing undeniably adorable proposals, not teaching marine science. Where did this statement come from? Well, most likely this was swiped from the movie Good Luck Chuck. See the scene below:

So to shed a little light on this generalization here goes it … The Gentoo and Adelie penguins are the two species out of the 17 known species of penguins to participate in this practice. According to the “Observations on Animal Behaviour” blog “During courtship, the male will present the female with a pebble as a gift. If the female accepts the generous gift, they bond and mate for life. These pebbles hold considerable value and they are also symbols of affection toward a mate. It’s actually quite touching that he would give one away when he’s fighting ferociously to defend his pebbles.”

Gentoo penguin

Gentoo penguin

Adelie penguin

Adelie penguin

Happy World Penguin Day!

What are the names of juvenile coastal and marine animals?

Well, it’s been quite some time since I’ve posted and it’s all due to an adorable little distraction – my son was born in early January. The addition has been wonderful and fairly stress free (keep your fingers crossed!). In fact, I have to say this time around my biggest stress was picking out a name. We had a boy name chosen, but not a girl name, so the decision was easy. However, it got me thinking about what juvenile marine animals are called. Here is a list of ‘baby’ names of over 25 well-known ocean animals. After all, you don’t accidentally want to refer to a juvenile shark as a calf or a juvenile eel as a spet, do you? If you can expand or elaborate on the list feel free to share in the comments box.

Flamingo, gull, heron, penguin: Chick
Crane:  Chick or craneling
Pelican: Nestling

Barracuda: Spet
Cod: Codling, hake, sprag, or sprat
Eel: Elver
Most fish: Fry or fingerling
Salmon: Smelt

Blue crab: Larva
Clam: Larva, chiton, or littleneck
Horseshoe crab: Larva
Jellyfish: Ephyrae
Oyster: Spat
Sand dollar, sea urchin, sea star: Larva or pluteus (free-swimming stage)

Marine mammals
Dolphin, manatee, porpoise, whale: Calf
Otter: Whelp or pup
Shark, seal, sea lion: Pup
Walrus: Cub or pup

Turtle: Hatchling

What this short video for some cute pictures of featured juvenile coastal and marine animals. Which one is your favorite?

Juvenile Animal Names from Beach Chair Scientist on Vimeo.

For more information:

What’s your favorite marine mascot?

We took our daughter to her first major league baseball game this weekend. I will never forget her cheery face when she’d point at the bright orange and black cartoon Orioles on fan’s shirts and say, “buuurrd?” The Phillies lost so it wasn’t the best experience we could have hoped for at Camden Yards, but overall my little family had an enjoyable time (also, impressive despite the 90 degree weather).

Needless to say, the day got me thinking about marine-themed mascots for major league sports in the U.S. This is a list of 9 marine mascots that might inspire your little marine biologists to follow baseball, hockey, or football or conversely that could get your little sports fan into science. I suppose if you’re a teacher, these mascots are also useful teaching tools to introduce different biological units (Ok, I am not certain what lesson you’d ever need Raymond the Seadog to introduce).

  1. T.D. the Dolphin (Miami Dolphins – NFL)
  2. Blitz the Seahawk (Seattle Seahawks – NFL)
  3. Lou Seal (San Francisco Giants – MLB)
  4. Iceburgh the Penguin (Pittsburgh Penguins – NHL)
  5. Fin the Whale (Vancouver Canucks – NHL)
  6. Raymond the Seadog (Tampa Bay Rays – MLB)
  7. Billy the Marlin (Miami Marlins – MLB)
  8. S.J. Sharkie (San Jose Sharks – NHL)
  9. Al the Octopus (Detroit Redwings – NHL)

From what I uncovered, the national basketball association is void of ocean animals as mascots. Please feel free to comment if you can think of another or just let me know if you have a favorite. Lastly, does anyone know where the Phillie Phanatic is originally from?

New ‘marine life encyclopedia’ launched

I think there might be another great bookmark to add to your ocean facts files! Please spend some time reviewing this great new resource, a marine life encyclopedia, compiled by Oceana. Over 500 creatures, places, and concepts can be explored. The pictures are bright and colorful and the information is up-to-date and easy to digest. It seems fantastic if you want a quick answer to a question.

Even if you think you know all the answers, test yourself with this Ocean IQ quiz!

The content on the marine life encyclopedia site has been licensed to Dorling Kindersley, one of the world’s leading educational publishers.

Who are the deepest divers in the sea?

After gathering data from, the University of California – San Diego, National Science Foundation, Softpedia, and Scientific American the folks from have presented this amazing graphic of the 8 deepest divers in the sea. As a bonus, it explains how penguins manage to pull off diving to a depth greater than the height of the Empire State Building! (P.S. If anyone knows where I can find a mentor who can teach me how to create these beautiful infographics please let me know.)

8. Emperor penguin – 1,500 feet deep

7. Weddell seal – 1,970 feet deep

6. Blaineville beaked whale – 4,100 feet deep

5. Leatherback sea turtle – 4,200 feet deep

4. Elephant seal – 5,000 feet deep

3. Southern elephant seal – 5,300 feet deep

2. Cuvier’s beaked whale – 6,200 feet deep

1. Sperm Whales – 6,500 feet deep

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Arnie ain’t no anglerfish

The Humpback anglerfish uses a modified dorsal...

Image via Wikipedia

Well, well, well, Arnold Schwarzenegger has a love child. As a newlywed I shook my head when I heard the news and said “surely they’re not all like that.”

I decided to investigate to find out if there are any truly monogamous species out in the blue sea.

Also, I did watch March of the Penguins. As much as I admire the Emperor penguins for staying together to raise their young, they are not lifelong monogamists. Each season they usually procreate with a different partner.

However, one group of anglerfish, from the family Ceratiidae, has a very faithful male (a little to clingy though if you ask me). Highly sensitive olfactory adaptations have evolved in these male anglerfish that allow them to smell out females. This is very useful as they are in the desolate landscape of the deep sea. Once they sniff out a mate, the males basically bite into the flesh of the females and fuse their mouth into her bloodstream. After that, these males will degenerate and simply be a source of sperm for the females.

Without this process the males would not be able to survive. The males of this family do not grow ’em tall due to the lack of a alimentary canal, essential for feeding. The males are scientifically smaller than the females and several males can be attached to one female. It took researchers some time to uncover the mystery that is the male anglerfish. For the longest time they couldn’t figure out why they were only collecting females specimens. But, unbeknown-st to them, the males were there too.

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Penguin’s plight progresses

Good news for five of the twelve species of penguins that were petitioned by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) to be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The lucky species that get a break for a time being include the Humboldt penguin of Chile and Peru and the yellow-eyed (pictured top), white-flippered, Fiordland crested and erect-crested (pictured bottom) of New Zealand.

Threats to these animals includes commercial fishing, ocean acidification and climate change.

Two other species, the African and southern rockhopper penguins, are awaiting a decision in September 2010 and January 2011. The other five species that the CBD wanted to list on the Endangered Species Act were not deemed in danger enough by the Interior Department. However, the CBD and Turtle Island Restoration Network are planning to file a suit for two of the five denied species to be reconsidered. Read more

Image (c) yellow-eyed; erect-crested

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