Who owns the fish in the sea?

It takes at least five minutes of discussion between a grandfather and a grandson to explain who owns the ocean and who can fish in the U.S. seas. Check out this animated video produced by the Center for Investigative Reporting as they share their perspective on the catch shares system in which “the right to fish belongs to a number of private individuals who have traded, bought and sold these rights in unregulated markets” (better known as “a few players control most of the fishery”). Although, as the Environmental Defense Fund notes from a recent study of fisheries in Canada and the U.S the catch shares system has some benefits, such as:

  • The amount of fish allowed to be caught increased 19% over 10 years of catch shares.
  • Wasted fish (bycatch) decreased 66% over 10 years, meaning more fish in the ocean and healthier populations.
  • Fleet-wide revenues increased 68% after 10 years and fisherman safety improved three-fold.

Related Post:

Can’t blame just Big Oil

Yesterday I wrote a post about pharmaceuticals affecting aquatic life our waterways and finished it up with a question, “Have you heard of any other ways fish or aquatic life are affected by what we put in our waterways?” Well, I’m too excited to share another culprit. We all know how oil spills affect wildlife because we’ve seen the commercials and very powerful images after a big spill. However, it happens all the time! According to a 2002 report by the National Academies of Science National Research Council petroleum that enters North American waters comes from human activities  (e.g., runoff, emissions), not from the ships that transport it. Here’s an image explaining the surprising fact that gas from our cars – not tankers or pipelines – is responsible for 92% of the petroleum spilled into the water. This image is taken from the infographic “The Unfiltered Truth About Water” created by Evergreen AES.

water still

Follow these five tips from the American Boating Association to minimize your impact of petroleum entering the waterways:

  1. Operate only well maintained boats
  2. Limit full throttle operation
  3. Eliminate unnecessary idling
  4. Follow recommended maintenance schedules
  5. Eliminate spillage when refueling
  6. And, I’ll add, carpool or take public transportation when possible

So now, besides petroleum and pharmaceuticals, what are some other ways fish or aquatic life are affected by what we put in our waterways?

Do you love infographics as much as I do? Check out this page with some of my favorites.

Have you visited the Sant Ocean Hall?

I’m lucky enough to live and work in the DC metro area, one of the biggest reasons I love this city (besides being able to feel the thrill and excitement of the Inauguration this past weekend) is the access to free museums. If you’re an ocean lover you might be surprised to know that there are some great spots to visit in DC in between all of the historical monuments you’re checking out. One of my favorite spots to check out on a rainy afternoon in the extension of the National Aquarium on 14th Street. Another fantastic spot would be the Sant Ocean Hall in the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History. It is the largest and one of the newest exhibits in the museum and contains over 674 specimens, including a replica of a 45-foot-long North Atlantic Right Whale (pictured below), fish x-rays, a scalloped hammerhead (below),  and a giant squid! I cannot wait to visit next month when there’s an exhibit of underwater pictures by Brian Skerry (check out his National Geographic Ocean Soul book here). The next time you’re in DC you have to make a point to visit, as they say “like the real ocean, the deeper visitors explore – the more they will discover”. My two-year old loved all of the interactive exhibits and the space was buzzing with enthusiastic school children. I was particularly happy that the exhibit hall was large enough that we were never on top of anyone and could always escape the ‘enthusiastic school children’. Here are some pictures from my visit on Friday.

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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.

10 tips for a successful beachcombing trip

It’s my favorite time of year. This is the best time to explore the beach. It’s still sunny and warm, there are frequent storms (you’ll see why that matters later), and there are few people on the beach. For another six weeks along the mid-Atlantic (before it gets too cold), I encourage you to spend some time getting to know your local shoreline. Here are 10 tips for a successful beachcombing trip.

10. What to bring. Here is a list of some items you may want to remember so you’re prepared for any situation.

  • Often the beach is considerably cooler than inland so bring layers. You may want to wear hiking pants and bring a zippered sweatshirt so you’re equipped with lots of pockets for some other items that might be essential.
  • Make sure to have some appropriate soles. Sure it’s our instinct to be barefoot, however if you want to venture out along the jetties or rocks make sure you have some old sneakers or those water shoes with some decent grip (After all, you don’t want to ruin your adventure with a puncture to some sharp object). Also, the water might be a little cooler than you’d prefer and some good foot cover will allow you to wade into a tide pool.
  • Make sure to have a watch.
  • Even during the off-season the sun is shining and is strong enough to give you a burn. Make sure to bring along a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
  • It’s always a good idea to bring a shovel, grabber sick, or even a metal detector so you can gently investigate inside crevices and below the sand.
  • You are going to want to cherish the moments so find that camera and try to make a neck strap so it’s always handy. You can take pictures of items you find and want to learn about later. You’ll also want to catalog those smiles in the sun.
  • Take along a small (i.e., not heavy) identification book so you can learn more about what you find while on your outing.

9. Be hands free. One more item that you’re going to love me for suggesting is a backpack. This way you can investigate a little bit further from your base and your items are quickly at your disposal.

8. Leave important items behind. Don’t ruin the day by losing a credit card or your phone. If you’re active and in the moment you might lose something and it’s going to be difficult to retrace your steps. I won’t say “I told you so”. On the same note it’s important to leave animals, plants, rocks, and seashells where you find them. If you want to have a little bit of the beach in your home check out these great books by Josie Iselin.

7. When to go. To get the optimum experience for beachcombing you’ll want to check on when low tide is at your beach spot. The best time to go beachcombing is 2-3 hours prior to low tide or an hour or so after (This is why a watch is important, you don’t want to get stuck on  shoal during high tide). Many intertidal animals live under the water in the sand during high tide, but come out to play (and seek out food) during low tide. If you can time it so you get to check out the beach after a big storm you’ll be in for a real treat. The strong wind and wave action of storms will wash up a fossils, bones, seaweed, and lot of other interesting treasures from the ocean floor. Also, keep in mind that dawn and dusk are difficult times to identify beach treasures. Although this is a great time to spot birds as many fish tend to come up to the surface at these times.

6. Where to go. My favorite spot to beachcomb is the Stone Harbor Point in NJ, but it’s not always easy for me to get there these days. I like to remind myself from time to time that I don’t need an ocean to beachcomb. There is a lake and creek in my neighborhood and these spots are a great place to spend the afternoon. After all, these waterways eventually lead to the ocean.  No matter where I decide to spend some time beachcombing I always make sure to note the general water quality.

5. Be careful. This is just a reminder to not tamper with obviously dangerous items. Fish hooks, metal canisters, and needles often wash up on the beach. While I am going to also suggest doing your part and picking up marine debris it’s also a good idea to err on the side of caution and when poking around. Also, some rocks look very steady but it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. If you are feeling like having an adventurous day it’s might be a good idea to make sure you have someone else with you. One last thing about being careful,even though the dunes might look like an interesting place to check out – it’s important to know that those grasses are incredibly brittle and can crack easily. It’s also against the law to walk on the dunes. The dunes are an important part of the beach ecosystem as they protect our homes from storm surge.

4. Leave it be. Each rock that you turn over is part of an ecosystem. A rock might be an essential part of an animal’s home as it helps pool water during high tide. Rocks also protect them from predator as well as the sun. It’s important to always remember to not take animals out of their natural setting – especially if you see them in a tide pool. Many animals are naturally attached to rocks for survival and you could be risking their survival.

3. Play. You might not want to go home, but you also might be in the company of some people that just don’t have a very long attention span. Even more frustrating is repeating the phrase, “No, you cannot go in the water today” over and over again. Build a sandcastle. Look to the horizon for dolphins or porpoises. Make a sand angel. Look up to the sky for cloud animals. Check out my ebook for other beachcombing adventures.

Image (c) Marine Debris Tracker

2. Bag it and track it. It’s always nice to be prepared to be able to do your part. I prefer to take along a hefty canvas bag that can fit in a backpack so I can tote marine debris back to a garbage can. You might even try to acquire one of these nifty bags with holes for sand to percolate through from the Green Bag Lady. When you head back to the car you can even do some citizen science and log your marine debris on the Marine Debris Tracker.

1. Don’t expect too much. It’s important to remember to relax and respect the area you are exploring. All of the ideas above are simply suggestions and ideas to ensure you get the most out of  a beachcombing adventure. Please don’t hesitate to share your favorite stories, spots, and other ideas for a great day. You can comment below of email me at info@beachchairscientist.com.

What they’re into … with Wallace J. Nichols

It’s Tuesday and you know what that means by now if you’ve been following BCS this summer. Time for another installment of “What Marine Conservationists Are Into …”! This is a series I featured in the summer of 2012 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. For the tenth edition, I am delighted to introduce California conservationist extraordinaire, Dr. Wallace ‘J” Nichols.

Dr. Wallace “J.” Nichols is a scientist, activist, community organizer, author, and dad. He works to inspire a deeper, more active, connection with nature, sometimes simply by walking and talking, other times through writing or images. Science and knowledge can also stoke our fires. But he knows that what really moves people is feeling part of and touching something bigger than ourselves.

J. is a Research Associate at California Academy of Sciences and founder of several conservation initiatives including Ocean Revolution, an international network of young ocean advocates, SEE the WILD, an international conservation travel portal and LiVBLUE, a campaign to reconnect people with our water planet. He earned his Bachelors in Biology and Spanish from DePauw University, an MEM in Environmental Policy and Economics from Duke University’s Nicholas School, and his PhD in Wildlife Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from University of Arizona.

He advises a motivated group of international graduate students and serves as an advisor to numerous non-profit boards and committees as part of his commitment to building a stronger, more progressive, and connected environmental community.

Lately he is working on BlueMarbles.org and BLUEMiND: The Mind + Ocean Initiative. He blogs at wallacejnichols.org and lives on California’s SLOWCOAST.

What is the last thing you bought that you shouldn’t have?
I’ve been off coffee for almost a month. But I bought a “dirty chai tea” which has a shot of espresso hidden down in the glass of tea.

What is your favorite fruit flavor?
Organic local you-pick olallieberry, the season is so short and sweet. Always worth the wait.

What is your favorite Sunday breakfast?
Poached eggs from our chickens, fresh pesto, on sourdough bread. And a dirty chai ; )

What’s your favorite midnight snack?
Ice cream w/ olallieberries!

Are you a night owl or a morning person?
A massive night owl who loves early mornings.

What is your favorite room in your home?
My daughters’ room, because we read stories at night and snuggle. It’s the best part of the day and the house.

Which sitcom character do you relate to?
None. I put some thought into this. And, well, none. That probably explains why we don’t have a TV. Or vice versa.

What is your favorite scent?
So, so many. Can I say olallieberry again? Just kidding. Late on a cool night in the redwoods. Just after a rain in the Sonoran Desert. Any kind of pie.

What is your favorite sundae topping?
Guess.

What is your favorite pastime?
Anything with our kids. They really make anything we do so much fun.

What three things would you take with you to an island?
Shakepeare’s Complete Works. A good machete. Olallieberry seeds.

How superstitious are you?
Not a bit.

What is your favorite day of the week?
Thursday, or Thor’s Day. Named after the Norse god of thunder, lightning storms and oak trees. That’s just cool. I think about that every Thursday.

Are you a cat person, dog person, or neither?
Both. Their names are Fisher (Newfoundland), Jack Wilder (Cairn terrier), Penelope (Maine Coon) and Trout (strange but cute black cat)

If you were a geometric shape, what would you like to be?
I rather like the rhombus. I wouldn’t really want to be one, though.

What’s some other random favorite information about you?
My fascination with neuroscience began in college, when I was 19. I gave weekly guitar lessons to a woman who had lost her memory in an accident as therapy for restoring her memories, and it worked. I’ve been interested in the wonders of the human brain ever since.

Almost ten years ago my partner Dana and daughter Grayce (who was just 1 y.o., her sister Julia wasn’t born yet) walked 1,800 km from Oregon to Mexico along the coast. I highly recommend that everyone take a very long walk (months) through a place that is important to them. It’s a deeply human and transformative thing to do.

Image (c) Jeff Lipsky

It’s a SodaStream sweepstakes!

Time for another giveaway … Would you believe me if I told you there was a smallish kitchen appliance you could use daily to enjoy a refreshing beverage that would reduce the amount of plastic bottles that would potentially enter the atmosphere as marine debris and it was free? While you’re contemplating how this miracle could ever occur, here are some facts on plastic bottles and the impact they have on the environment.

  1. Plastic bottles can take over 1,000 years to decompose.
  2. Enough plastic bottles are thrown away each year in the United States to circle the earth four times.
  3. Over 80% of empty water bottles end up in the nation’s landfills.
  4. Only 8% of the total plastic waste generated in 2010 was recovered for recycling.
  5. 1.5 million tons of plastic waste are created by plastic bottles alone.
  6. 47 million gallons of oil is consumed to produce the bottles that Americans drink out of each year (This is enough oil to take 100,000 cars off the road and 1-billion pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere).
  7. 24 million gallons of oil are needed to produce a billion plastic bottles.
  8. Bottled water costs about 1000 times more than tap water and 90% of the cost of bottled water is due to the bottle itself.
  9. Bottling and shipping water is the least energy efficient method ever used to supply water.
  10. In a study conducted by the National Resources Defense Council one third of bottled water tested contained significant contamination.

Now, how can you reduce the amount of plastic bottles you may potentially contribute to the environment? My suggestion isn’t going to be too surprising if you’ve been following me on Twitter as I’ve become a genuine fan of the SodaStream machine. The SodaStream isn’t a new product by any means. In fact, this home soda maker machine is connected with 1970/1980’s childhood nostalgia in the United Kingdom. The soda maker machine comes with a few durable bottles that you keep filled up in the refrigerator and use the carbonator to turn the cold tap water into delicious bubbly water. There are about 30 flavors to add to the bubbly water to create your own fun drinks (Target carries the flavors to add)! My husband likens the cola flavor to Coke rather than Pepsi. I thoroughly enjoy the plain club soda, but have indulged in the occasional diet Dr. flavor and cannot tell any difference from the Pipp or Pepper original. There are even Crystal Light and energy drink options. I’ve come to appreciate it, not only because it reduces marine debris, but also because there is no dragging bottles from the store to the house and the recycling bin doesn’t need to be emptied as much which I know is also making an impact on the environment.

Of course, the SodaStream carbonator does need to be replaced and that comes with a cost (but, I think it’s worth it!). The carbonator needs to be replaced depending on how often you use it. We’ve had ours for 3 months and will probably make it another 3 before we need to replace it. The carbonators can be exchanged for free to any participating local retailer or through the SodaStream company directly via UPS (yes, you’re essentially hostage to a single overpriced gas supplier).

How can you get your hands on a SodaStream for free? If you share any of my posts on Facebook or retweet any of my posts on Twitter in the next week I’ll enter you into a raffle for a free SodaStream (they were kind of enough to send me one)! You can share as many posts or retweet as many tweets as you’d prefer to saturate your friends, family, and colleagues until noon next Friday. Each time you share or retweet it will be an additional chance to win. I’ll only count the shares from the direct page or the retweets from the original tweet and not the folks that share a share or retweet a retweet. Also, it can be any post or tweet, new or old. Be sure to tag Beach Chair Scientist in anything you share! I will announce the winner next Friday (what a great way to start Labor Day weekend for someone!).

Update (8/31/2012): Thanks to Random Picker for helping make the raffle so efficient! Our winner for the SodaStream is a Beach Chair Scientist Facebook friend! Thank you to everyone that participated your support means the world!

10 fish you don’t see during Shark Week

I confess. I’ve given up on Shark Week. It took 25 years to shake me, but for the first time I can remember, I won’t be watching. When I was 16, you couldn’t schedule enough great white and shark attack programming to satisfy me. Danger Beach, Vic Hislop, Air Jaws … it was all good. It’s obviously a winning formula for Discovery, but for me, it’s just not enough any more.

There are 500 species of sharks out there. Probably more. There are so many stories to tell. Here are ten you (probably) won’t see this year during Shark Week:

1. Ocean giants. The two largest fishes on Earth are sharks. Thirty-foot, plankton-eating basking sharks can filter a swimming pool of seawater every hour through sieve-like gill rakers in their throats. Whale sharks grow bigger than school buses, and gather by the hundreds in the waters off Mexico’s Isla Holbox and other global hotspots for seasonal feasts of zooplankton or fish eggs. Despite surviving on this surface-dwelling diet, researchers have also tracked whale sharks to depths of more than 6,000 feet. Why?

2. Glowing deepsea sharks. Lantern sharks glow in the dark and hide in the light. Many species of deepwater sharks, including the lantern sharks, are bioluminescent (i.e., they create their own light). Some of these sharks can even project light from their bellies that closely matches the light filtering down from above, erasing their silhouette. They also happen to be beautiful little creatures with fantastic names, like the velvet belly shark, the taillight shark, and the splendid lantern shark. Wouldn’t you like to meet a splendid lantern shark?

3. Cookie cutters. Shark geeks know all about the cookie-cutter shark, but I always forget that they’re not exactly famous…yet. A big cookie-cutter is less than two feet long and yet they’ve been known to feed on tuna, seals, dolphins, and whales…yes, whales. It’s a neat trick. The cookie-cutters sneak up on large prey, attach themselves with fat, sucking lips and twist and thrash until they pull free a round plug of flesh. These little sharks have a remarkable set of jaws with positively enormous teeth. In fact, the cookie-cutters have the largest tooth-to-body-length ratio of any shark (including the great white).

4. Wobbegongs. Can I interest you in a flat shark with patterns like bad 70’s wallpaper and a mustache that would put Tom Selleck to shame? Wobbegongs are bottom-dwelling masters of camouflage with ornate, branching lobes hanging from their upper jaws that look enough like algae or kelp to attract unsuspecting fishes and crustaceans. Wobbegongs lie in wait until their prey gets just a little too close, then erupt in an explosion of tassels and teeth.

5. Hammers and saws. You may have seen hammerheads during Shark Week, but have you ever seen a winghead shark? Wingheads have ‘hammers’ nearly half their total body length. To what benefit? Don’t know. What’s stranger than a hammerhead? How about a sawshark? Imagine a shark, with a chainsaw blade attached to its face and two long noodle-like nasal barbels for detecting buried prey. You can’t make this stuff up.

6. Here be goblins. All sharks have protrusible jaws. Their choppers are loosely attached to their skull, which allows them to push their jaws forward to get a little extra reach, or to create suction. Goblin shark jaws aren’t just extendable, they’re spring-loaded. Elastic ligaments are stretched taught when the shark’s mouth is closed and slingshot the jaws forward as they open. Goblins may need the extra reach to get out from under their long, wide rostrum…which looks a little like an ironing board (at least to me).

7. Helicoprion. You’ll hear plenty about the mega-monstrous megalodon this week, but I’d rather hear a little more about a real pre-historic elasmobranch enigma. Helicoprion had a strange spiral tooth whorl that early paleontologists had no idea what to do with. Some placed it in the sharks’ mouth, some on their dorsal fin. Some suggested it shot out like a frog’s tongue to ensnare their prey. Though speculation seemed to have settled on a lower jaw placement, at least one author suggests the teeth may have resided in Helicoprion’s throat.

8. The shark that walks like a dog. One of my favorites is the epaulette shark, a charming little carpet shark with a distinctive ocellated spot on its flank and a peculiar habit of locomotion. Epaulettes scamper across the reef on large pectoral and pelvic fins. Truthfully, these sharks look more like salamanders than dogs as they wriggle over complex coral reef habitats…and maybe a little like pigs as they root around in the substrate searching for food with their nasal barbels.

9. The sharks who’re named for cats. The catsharks are the largest family of sharks, and boast some of the strangest and most beautiful sharks in the sea. Some catsharks sport snappy colors and patterns like the striped pajama catshark and the chain dogfish (which is actually a catshark). Others are just bizarre, like the spatulasnout and lollipop catsharks, two hyper-specialized deepsea rarities. The aptly named swell shark gulps seawater (or air) and inflates like a pufferfish when threatened.

10. Sleepers. There’s not only diversity in size, shape, and appearance; there is also surprising variety in the ranges and habitats of sharks. Would you expect to find sharks beneath arctic ice sheets? Greenland sharks and Pacific sleepers are lumbering, flabby, but impressive beasts, surviving and thriving where you’d least expect. Stomach contents range widely from giant squid to halibut to seal and whale blubber to at least one (probably apocryphal) account of an entire reindeer.

That’s ten, but I’m still ignoring that other elusive plankton-feeding giant, the megamouth shark, not to mention the long-tailed threshers, the surrealistic rough sharks, frilled sharks, cowsharks, spotted zebra sharks, and puffadder shysharks. I won’t be watching, so if you hear more than a gee-whiz sound bite on any of these sharks, you’ll have to leave a comment to let me know and my faith will be restored.

I will credit Shark Week for creating a lot of excitement about sharks once a year. Some of the kids thrilled by the antics of bait-addled and target-tempted whites, tigers and other super predators will go on to become scientists, conservationists and marine educators…but many others will merely have tired shark stereotypes newly instilled or freshly reinforced. The challenge falls to educators, researchers, and shark enthusiasts to pick up the gauntlet and fill in the blanks for those viewers who just don’t know what they’re missing when it comes to the unappreciated (but critically important) diversity of sharks.

This post was contributed by Jim Wharton, Director of Conservation and Education at the Seattle Aquarium.

Don’t hide your head in the sand

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure meet up with Jen Miller, a freelance reporter, to discuss some of the little known and finer attributes that the often pesky ‘sand’ brings to our beaches. For instance, did you know that all beach sand contains quartz? The odd thing is that the land surrounding some beaches doesn’t contain any quartz. Read her article from NewsWorksNJ to find out how the quartz arrives on some shorelines, as well as why sand is an integral part of the dune ecosystem that we rely on to protect our homes from big storms and waves.

Please feel free to email info@beachchairscientist.com with any questions, comments, or suggestions for posts.

What are the world’s largest oceans and seas?

Great question! Here is a quick break down of the world’s largest oceans and seas using the size information found in the descriptions from The World’s Biggest Oceans & Seas by Our Amazing Planet.

If you have another question please don’t hesitate to find me on Twitter using @bcsanswers or just email info@beachchairscientist.com. Have a great beachcombing weekend!

Also, here is a map to reference each body of water listed above.