Finned foliage

I wanted to share this image of anthias swimming in the Red Sea to usher in the briskness of autumn! As you know it’s my favorite time to beachcomb, but it’s also my favorite time to be surrounded by the brilliant-colored leaves of trees. The reds, yellows, and oranges are as vibrant as a coral reef.

These schooling anthias are interesting because they are born one sex, but then change to another. In fact, all anthias are born female and only change to male if the male in their school dies. Most anthias remain female their entire life. This type of hermaphrodite is known as protogynous (proh-TAH-guh-nus). If it were the other way (beginning their life as male and changing to female) it would be known as protandrous (pro–TAN-dur-us).

RedseaAnthias

The image is from Free Underwater Images, a new favorite resource. This website “promotes increased awareness of the marine environment by allowing users to download free, high quality underwater photos.  All images are in the public domain and free for any use without prior written permission and without fee or obligation. Images can be used for any non commercial purpose”.

Have you watched Ocean Frontiers yet?

Ocean Frontiers is a movie you cannot miss the opportunity to watch. If not because you are genuinely interested in a film that outlines the transition of thought from the “the outlook is grim for the future of the ocean” to “there is a light at the end of the tunnel for our ocean“, then watch it because it’s always a pleasure to view any work of art that is clearly a labor of love as this obviously was for producers Ralf and Karen Meyer.

The movie takes you across the country (Washington State, New England, the Gulf of Mexico) and shares stories of the movement of scientists, farmers, fishermen, government agencies, and businesses as they come together for long-term solutions with the understanding that there is prosperity through preservation. Now that “jellyfish are often the catch of the day”, “many of the largest fish have been caught”, and “most of the world’s coral reefs are bleached and dying” there is recognition that the “sea is not boundless”.

Below is a clip from the movie illustrating how the Florida Keys were transformed and revitalized through this attitude of cooperation and that the mentality that the long-term outlook is best for all. How I loved watched this part as it reminded me of my days in Florida for graduate school!

What is your favorite ocean-themed children’s book?

Summer is unofficially here and with that comes trips to the beach! To keep the theme going at home I am on a mission to discover new ocean-themed books to share with my little one. I compiled this list after some research and from your feedback on Facebook and Twitter. Please share by commenting below if you have a new book to add to the list. Also, scroll down and fill out the survey to share which one(s) are your favorite.

‘The Serpent Came to Gloucester’ by M.T. Anderson: (Ages 6 and up) Drawing on a true story, an award-winning author and illustrator present a picture-book tribute to the beauty and mystery of the ocean, and to the mesmerizing creatures that may frolic there.

‘Commotion in the Ocean’ by Gil Andreae: (Ages 3 and up)  The sequel to the best-selling “Rumble in the Jungle”, this delightful new collection of poems includes fun rhymes about the creatures who live in and around the ocean. Children will delight in the snappy poems and colorful illustrations about whales, walruses, penguins, polar bears, stingrays and sharks.

‘Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef’ by Marianne Berkes: (Ages 3 and up) This coral reef is a marine nursery, teeming with parents and babies! In the age-old way of kids and fish, children will count and sing to the rhythm of “Over in the Meadow” while pufferfish “puff,” gruntfish “grunt” and seahorses “flutter.”

A House for Hermit Crab‘ by Eric Carle: (Ages 5 and up) His modern-day fable is both wise and simple; based on the true habits of the hermit crab, it not only introduces young readers to the wonder and beauty of the marine environment but also contains an encouraging message for small children facing the inevitable challenges of growing up.

‘Mister Seahorse’ by Eric Carle: (Ages 2 and up) When Mrs. Seahorse lays her eggs, she does it on Mr. Seahorse’s belly! She knows he will take good care of them. While he swims waiting for the eggs to hatch, he meets some other underwater fathers caring for their babies: Mr. Tilapia, who carries his babies in his mouth; Mr. Kurtus, who keeps his on his head; and Mr. Catfish, who is baby-sitting his young hatchlings.

‘The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor’ by Joanna Cole: (Ages 4 and up) When Ms. Frizzle drives the Magic School Bus full speed ahead into the ocean, the class takes a submarine expedition that’s anything but ordinary. With a well-meaning lifeguard in tow, the class takes a deep breath and learns about hot water vents, coral reefs, plant and animal life on the ocean floor, and more!

‘Abby’s Aquarium Adventure Series’ by Heidi de Maine: (Ages 5-10) Stories that teach about different types of fish and how to remember their names easily, it also shows the kids what an aquarist does in his/her job at the aquarium.

‘The Disappearing Island‘ by Corinne Demas: (Ages 6-10) Carrie wonders about the mysterious island that her grandmother plans to take her to on her ninth birthday, a place that is visible only at low tide and the rest of the time remains a secret beneath the waves.

Crab Moon‘ by Ruth Horowitz: (Ages 6-10) June’s full moon casts an atmospheric glow over Kiesler’s (Old Elm Speaks, 1998) soft-focus shore scenes in this brief consciousness raiser.

‘A Day in the Salt Marsh’ by Kevin Kurtz: (Ages 5 and up) Enjoy A Day in the Salt Marsh, one of the most dynamic habitats on earth. Fun-to-read, rhyming verse introduces readers to hourly changes in the marsh as the tide comes and goes.

Carry on Mr. Bowditch‘ by Jean Lee Latham: (Grades 2 – 6) The story of a boy who had the persistence to master navigation in the days when men sailed by “log, lead, and lookout,” and who authored The American Practical Navigator, “the sailor’s Bible.”

‘Swimmy’ by Leo Lionni: (Ages 4 and up) Deep in the sea there lives a happy school of little fish. Their watery world is full of wonders, but there is also danger, and the little fish are afraid to come out of hiding . . . until Swimmy comes along. Swimmy shows his friends how—with ingenuity and team work—they can overcome any danger.

The Coast Mappers‘ by Taylor Morrison: (Grades 2 – 6) In the mid-nineteenth century, little was known of the west coast and waterways. The ships that sailed those waters did so at a considerable risk, sometimes depending on only a school atlas to navigate and all too often crashing into the rocks.

‘The Young Man and the Sea‘ by W. R. Philbrick: (Ages 9 and up) Award winner Rodman Philbrick’s powerful middle-grade novel is a story of determination and survival–of a boy’s exhilirating encounter with a fish that first nearly kills him but then saves his life.

‘Beach Day’ by Karen Roosa: (Ages 4 and up) In this charming picture book, a cheerful family tumbles out of the car and onto the beach, ready for a perfect day.

‘Hello Ocean‘ by Pam Munoz Ryan: (Ages 4-7) This rhyming picture book about the pleasures of a day at the beach goes through the day while using the sense.

‘I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean’ by Kevin Sherry: (Ages 4-7) When a giant squid takes inventory of all of the creatures in the ocean, he realizes that he?s way bigger than most of them! Of course, there are bigger things lurking around . . . but maybe this giant squid with a giant touch of hubris doesn’t really care?

‘The Suzanne Tate Nature Series‘ by Suzanne Tate: (Preschool – 4th grade) Suzanne Tate’s Nature Series is a unique series of 34 books about marine life. Teaching guides are available for books 1 through 28. In each colorfully illustrated book for early childhood (Pre-K-4), biologically accurate information is combined with an exciting story line. The books also promote self-esteem and environmental awareness.

The Boathouse Buddies Series’ by Karen Thomason and Ilene Baskette: (Grade 2 – 6) The Boat House Buddies deals with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in a series of ten books.

‘Far From Shore: Chronicles of an Open Ocean Voyage‘ by Sophie Webb: (Ages 9 and up) In extremely deep waters (two miles deep), the vast sea appears empty. But as naturalist and artist Sophie Webb shows us, it is full of fascinating—yet difficult to study—life. Together with her shipmates, Sophie counts and collects samples of life in the deep ocean, from seabirds to dolphins, from winged fish to whales.

‘Flotsam’ by David Wiesner: (Ages 4 and up) A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam–anything floating that has been washed ashore.

‘The Seashore Book‘ by Charlotte Zolotow: (Ages 3 and up) A young boy, who has never seen the sea, asks his mother to describe it. From there, Zolotow carefully chooses her words to create a poem full of the colors, sounds, and sights of a day at the beach.

The summaries and book covers can be attributed to the link associated with the title of the book.

Which book(s) are your favorite?

Why are our seas collapsing?

ReUseThisBag.com and oBizMedia.com have come together to produce a powerful infographic outlining 8 threats to the ocean (overfishing, whaling, factory fishing, global warming, pollution, factory fishing, bycatch, and pirate fishing). Creator Samantha Sanders did a phenomenal job designing the infographic with rich and vivid images detailing supporting evidence such as the destruction of coral reefs and the global decline of the tuna population. For instance, “There are 109 countries with coral reefs. Reefs in 90 of them are damaged by cruise ships anchors and sewage, by tourists breaking off chucks of coral, and by commercial sales to tourists.” Please share and feel free to comment your thoughts on the ‘Collapsing Seas’ infographic.

Simple coral bleaching teaching

There are some things that we want to stay white, such as snow and Kris Kringle’s beard. Coral reefs are not one of them. Unfortunately, The Nature Conservancy noted that 2011 was the most extensive coral reef bleaching event for the Florida Reef Tract since 2004. Scientists working on the Florida Keys Reef Resilience Program were not surprised due to the very hot summer of 2011.

What is coral bleaching?

As the National Ocean Service (a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) states, “When corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients, they expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white.” For more information on the symbiotic relationships going on within a coral reef check out this video!

Image (c) wunderground.org

30 reasons to be grateful for the ocean

It’s the end of another National Oceans Month. And, on this most lovely of lovely days I’d like to Speak Up For Blue and name 30 reasons to be grateful for the ocean! (OK, and it just so happens to be this Beach Chair Scientist’s birthday)

In no particular order, here are some reasons to appreciate the ocean (and all its glorious ecosystems):

Estuaries (Although the course may change sometimes, rivers always reach the sea. – Led Zeppelin)

  • Nursery grounds for many of the commercially important fish that live in the sea.
  • Make up the public infrastructure that are the harbors and ports used for shipping, transportation, and industry.
  • Serve as a filter for sediments, nutrients, and other pollutants that come from upstream.
  • Coastal areas are home to over half the U.S. population.
  • Mangroves and other estuarine ecosystems are amazing playgrounds and feeding grounds for many wading birds.
  • The smell of low tide!

Intertidal Zone (including littoral zone)

  • Home to the tides going in and out. Where else can we appreciate the ebb and flow of life?
  • This is home to many bivalve species that love to burrow under the muck.
  • We can investigate the wrack line and find many treasures that have washed ashore.
  • Place where my favorite animal, the Atlantic horseshoe crab, likes to come to mate during the full and new moons in May and June.
  • A perfect spot to jump waves with little ones!
  • Home to the lovely and rhythmic sound of waves lapping.

Coral Reefs (Pollution, overfishing, and overuse have put many of our unique reefs at risk. Their disappearance would destroy the habitat of countless species. It would unravel the web of marine life that holds the potential for new chemicals, new medicines, unlocking new mysteries. It would have a devastating effect on the coastal communities from Cairns to Key West, Florida — communities whose livelihood depends upon the reefs. – Former President Bill Clinton.)

  • Support a great diversity of species.
  • Yield compounds that are very important in the medical field (have been used in the treatment of cancer, HIV, cardiovascular diseases, ulcers, and other ailments).
  • Protect shorelines erosion.
  • Center of many country’s tourism income.
  • Home to a myriad of colors and patterns!

Pelagic Zone, Euphotic Zone (Open ocean)

  • The only place large enough for the big blue whale to swim and play.
  • The only place large enough for a blue fin tuna to pick up enough speed.
  • Home to a lot of phytoplankton that helps support oxygen production.
  • Home to the Sargasso Sea the only place special enough for the American eel to breed.
  • Home to peace and solitude.
  • A perfect spot to become humble.

Mesopelagic Zone, Twilight Zone (Open ocean bathyal zone)

  • Home to the many creature with the beautiful twinklings of bioluminescence.
  • Only place deep enough for sperm whales to dive down and grab some food.
  • Home to many elusive squid species.

Deep Sea (Abyssal)

Polar Regions

  • Home to the polar bear (did you know their fur isn’t white? It is actually clear but appears white since it is reflected in the sunlight).
  • Important breeding and mating areas for many migratory species (including the red knot).

And, without it we’d be nothing. Oceans cover about 70% of the earth’s surface, and we rely on it economically, environmentally, and scientifically.

Obviously this is a very personal list and it could go on and on forever. I am looking forward to hearing your reasons to be grateful to the ocean and hope we can get to 100 by the end of the year!

How long do seastars live?

Seastars can live up to 35 years in the wild! It really depends on the species. Their wild habitat includes coral reefs, rocky coasts, sandy bottom, or even the deep sea of all the world’s oceans. There are approximately 1,800 different types of sea stars.

They have been known to live up to 10 years in aquariums.

More links on seastars:

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/starfish.html

http://users.bigpond.net.au/je.st/starfish/index.html

But we’ve only scratched the surface here. Check back often at http://www.beachchairscientist.com for more insight about your favorite beach discoveries.