Seven silly sea science words

Somewhere along the line people got the idea that science is scary and intimidating. But, like so much of this world … science is much more than what we first think. Science can be silly. Science can be fun. Science can be collecting and analyzing data. But, science is creating questions. And, science is sharing results.

Science can even make you smile. To prove it – here are some silly sounding words that make me laugh every time I say them. I actually had to have my daughter narrate this short film because “caudle peduncle” is just too much sometimes. Hopefully this clip will make you curious to explore new words and realms within science. It’s bound to make you smile at least! By the way, do you have a favorite sounding sea science word?

What's your faorite sea science word?

Seven silly sea science words Music by Colin Miller/Narrated by Winnie Miller

 

Deadliest shark: Great white vs. bull?

greatwhitevsbull_beachchairscientist
GREAT WHITE SHARK: Most great white sharks average in at about 15 feet in length, but some have been recorded as long as 20 feet. That’s a huge fish! They can reach speeds of 15 miles per hour (mph). So, the great white is a slow but mighty creature. Their bite force can reach up to 4,000 pounds per square inch (psi). Along with that … Great white have several rows of teeth and they are even serrated. Pretty scary mouth, if I do say so.
BULL SHARK: Bull sharks are typically eight feet in length, so already they are significantly smaller that great white sharks. Female bull sharks weigh in at about 290 pounds. A nine foot long bull shark could have bite force of upwards of 400 pounds. It doesn’t sound like much compared to the great white, but pound-for-pound a bull shark’s bite is stronger. Bull sharks can also swim inland in rivers.
MY VERDICT: To me the major concerns are keeping the great white shark’s length in mind while on the other hand taking into account that you could run into a bull shark in freshwater. Add in that scientists have proved that a bull shark’s bite is indeed more deadly that a great white. Bull sharks are also a more territorial species and might even be in freshwater … so that poses even more of running into them. To me, it’s suddenly a no-brainier. Bull sharks are definitely the most deadly species to humans (although, we are never actually what they hunt).
This post was written by Abby Kersh. Abby is a senior at Stonewall Jackson High School. She has been fascinated by the ocean since she could walk. She plans to study marine biology in college. She would like to concentrate of shark behavior when she completes college.

Five surprising facts about sharks

Why are we so enamored with sharks? Why are we glued to the television in the summer during the last hours of daylight to watch fish on TV rather than playing a final game of wiffle ball or pick-up basketball? Does it have something to do with the fact that there are over 400 different types of sharks and always something new to learn? Anyway you slice it, these cartilaginous fish are pretty cool. Here are five surprising facts about sharks that will certainly get you excited to learn more and watch this year’s (hopefully) new and improved Shark Week. What is your favorite fact about sharks?

Shark Week will air from July 5-12 on the Discovery Channel

 

Sink your teeth into this: 20 facts about shark teeth

Are you ready to sink your teeth into Shark Week 2012? Here are 20 facts about shark teeth to get you started. Discovery Channel’s annual event looks like it will quite the extravaganza  for its 25th year. Andy Samberg from Saturday Night Live has been brought in as the official ‘chief shark officer‘. I have my reservations about the summer ritual now as a marine conservationist (Read this article I resonated with last year “Should Shark Week Focus On Conservation?” from Care2.org), but love that it’s an event that brings people together and creates an interest in the marine ecosystem. I have many fond memories of my brothers, parents, and I slowing down at the end of summer to watch sharks in a way we never could from the shoreline.

1. Shark teeth are not attached to gums on a root like our teeth.
2. Sharks typically lose at least one tooth per week.
3. Sharks lose their teeth because they may become stuck in prey or broken and forced out.
4. Shark teeth are arranged in neat conveyor belt rows and can be replaced within a day of losing one.
5. Sharks average out to 15 rows of teeth in each jaw. Although most have 5 and then there is the bull shark that has 50 rows of teeth.
6. Shark teeth are popularly found as beach treasures because sharks shed 1000s of teeth in a lifetime. Although, don’t get yourself in trouble if you decide to collect them. Recently, over 2,400 shark teeth were confiscated from a passenger in India (shark teeth are an illegal import prohibited under the Wild Life Protection Act of 1972).
7. Well after a shark dies and its body decomposes its teeth will fossilize.
8. Fossilized shark teeth are not white because they are usually covered with sediment (which prevents oxygen and bacteria from getting to them).
9. It takes about 10,000 years for a shark tooth to fossilize. The most commonly found shark teeth fossils are from 65,000 year ago (the Cenozoic era).
10. Venice, FL (on the Gulf of Mexico) calls itself the “shark tooth capital of the world”.
11. Sharks are born with complete sets of teeth and swim away from their mother to fend for themselves.
12. A shark’s tooth shape is dependent upon its diet. For instance, the shortfin mako razor like teeth tear flesh, the tiger shark has piercing teeth to cut flesh, and the zebra shark has dense flattened teeth because it feasts upon mollusks.
13. Whale sharks have 3,000 little teeth that are of little use. They’re filter feeders that find food by sifting through their gills.
14. The tooth of the megalodon range from 31/2 – 7 inches long and can weigh more than a pound!
15. Shark teeth were recently discovered to contain fluoride.
16.  Sharks do not suffer from cavities.
17. The inside of shark and human teeth contains a soft mineral known as dentin.
18. The coating of shark teeth is acid resistant and less water soluble than our teeth.
19. Shark teeth and human teeth are equally as hard.
20. Even though many sharks have sharp teeth that could inflict a wound to humans, sharks should always be treated with respect.

Image (c) http://www.fancynancypantsinct.blogspot.com

What they’re into … with David Shiffman (@WhySharksMatter)

This is a series I’ve been featuring each Tuesday 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!) which sets out to illustrate that scientists are not just crazy haired nerds in lab coats. I’ve sent a list of 15 random questions and asked that each person share at least their answers to 5 of them. This week features David Shiffman of Southern Fried Science and I am so glad he agreed since I know this crowd loves shark talk.

David with a sandbar shark in Charleston harbor

David is a Ph.D. student at the University of Miami’s Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. His research focuses on shark behavior, ecology, and conservation, and he has interacted with over 2,500 sharks on three continents. David writes about shark science and conservation topics for the marine biology blog Southern Fried Science, and is active on Twitter @WhySharksMatter. Additionally, David has a B.S. with distinction in Biology from Duke University, and a Masters in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston. If you and your class or community organization are interested in joining David and the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program for a shark tagging expedition in the Florida Keys, please let him know!

What is your favorite Sunday breakfast?
When I lived in Charleston, SC, crab cake eggs benedict. They don’t have that here in Miami, but there’s a place around the corner from my apartment that makes peanut butter and chocolate chip pancakes.

What’s your favorite midnight snack?
Homemade cookies. My first word was “cookie”.

Are you a night owl or a morning person?
Although field research often involves getting up at 4:00 a.m., I am not a morning person. I enjoy having morning people in the car with me when I have to drive to our research locations before the sun rises, though.

Which sitcom character do you relate to?
I’m not sure if “Glee” counts as a sitcom, but if so, Sue Sylvester. If not, Jack Donaghy from “30 Rock” or Ron Swanson from “Parks and Recreation”.

What is your favorite scent?
Bacon. Or maybe popcorn. Actually, they make bacon-flavored popcorn now. It’s surprisingly not gross.

What three things would you take with you to an island?
If this is an island I’m vacationing on, I’d bring snorkel gear, beer, and beer. If this is a deserted island I’m going to be stranded on, I’d bring a satellite phone, a GPS, and a boat to help getting un-stranded.

Are you a cat person, dog person, or neither?
I am definitely a dog person. My new puppy Magnolia is sitting at my feet in my office as I answer these questions.

Bonus random fact you’d like to share about yourself?
There is a hot dog named after me (the Shiffman) at the hot dog stand on Duke’s campus. It is a hot dog served on a twinkie.

Yum! Thanks for the amazing idea for dinner tonight, David! Also, thanks for sharing your personality with us. For more ‘What they’re into …’ with other ocean folks click here.

How do fish give birth? Revisited

From time to time, I like to revisit the more popular posts and present either new material or the material in a new format. Below is a simplified understanding of the three general ways that fish give birth (i.e., Within each category below there are sub-categories that I did not get into here). Please feel free to comment below or send me an email at info@beachchairscientist.com if you have any additional questions.

15 facts about sharks

1.) Sharks are divided into 8 orders.
2.) Sharks are again divided into 34 families.
3.) There are over 360 shark species.
4.) The largest meat eating shark is the great white shark (37 feet).
5.) The largest shark is the whale shark (and largest fish overall), a filter feeder.
6.) The second largest shark (and fish) is also a filter feeder, the basking shark.
7.) Dwarf laternfish (7 1/2 -8 inches), the spined pygmy shark (8 inches) and the pygmy ribbontail catshark (7-7 1/2/ inches) are among the smallest of the sharks.
8.) The fastest swimming fish are the mako and blue sharks which can swim upwards to 60 miles per hour.
9.) The shark with the strongest bite is the dusky shark with a jaw of 132 pounds of force.
10.) The dogfish is the most common shark species.
11.) The deepest diving fish is the Portuguese shark.
12.) The shark with the longest migration has been found to be the blue shark.
13.) Megalodon was an ancient shark that may have been 2 or 3 times as long as a great white shark.
14.) Megalodon means “giant tooth”.
15.) The fossilized teeth of a megalodon are as large as an adult’s hand.

What are those tiny black pods with tendrils near the ends?

They are egg cases from a juvenile thorny skate. skateThe skate is related to sharks and rays. Sharks, skates, and rays all have a skeleton made up of cartilage, the flexible material that is found in our noses and ears. One tiny skate will hatch from each egg after nine months – hatching under the surface of the water. Usually, what we see wrapped up in the seaweed “wrack line” is the discarded egg cases. Another nickname for these egg cases is the “mermaid’s purse.” Check out this BCS post to learn the difference between skates and rays.

Image (c) NOAA – Alaska Fisheries Science Center.

Do you have another great question? Email info@beachchairscientist.com!