Richard Ross Named 2014 MASNA Aquarist of the Year

Richard Ross

Behold your 2014 MASNA Aquarist of the Year, Richard Ross.

We are so excited to announce that Rich has won this prestigious award. For those of you who don’t know Rich, or at least follow him on social media, he has to be one of the most talented hobbyists with such an amazingly diverse background. He currently works for the California Academy of Science in their Steinhart Aquarium, maintaining their 212,000 gallon Philippine reef exhibit which has an added perk of getting to travel to the Coral Triangle for collecting and other awesome activities. He has done phenomenal work in the areas of cephalopod research, fish breeding, coral aquaculture, and spreading knowledge about the aquarium hobby. Rich pens the Skeptical Reefkeeping column on the Reefs Magazine and often contributes to other blogs and aquarium organizations.

As for his past in hobby, Rich was actually educated in philosophy at the University of California, but started to volunteer at the Steinhart Aquarium in 2008. Being a lifelong aquarist, this was a no brainer, and eventually he turned that into a very successful career as a full-time staff biologist.

When he’s not playing with aquatic life, Rich juggles, does a little stand up here and there, and dabbles in blowing glass. At MACNA 2013, Rich was the master of ceremonies and entertained the crowd with some amazing juggling skills and some all around good fun.

We couldn’t think of a more perfect candidate for the MASNA Aquarist of the Year award and we’d like to congratulate him once again.

Thanks, Rich. You’re AWESOME!

 

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By Rich Ross and Ret Talbot
From Reefs Magazine

Most marine aquarium hobbyists purchase animals for their tanks without much thought to those animals’ origins. This is understandable since most local fish stores and online retailers don’t make that kind of information easily available to customers. Point-of-origin does matter, however, because not all animals are collected sustainably and not all fishers are treated equitably.

Local divers in Solomon Islands harvest aquarium fishes and corals in what is generally considered a sustainable fishery. In part, sustainability is insured through limited cargo space for exports and long-standing traditions of resource ownership/rights. Photo by Ret Talbot.

The marine aquarium hobby and its practices are increasingly scrutinized by anti-aquarium trade activists and environmental advocacy groups, wildlife managers concerned about invasive species introductions and legislators interested in pleasing constituents. A sustainable and equitable trade is a defensible trade; the status quo is not. More important than defense, however, we argue that purchasers of wild animals have a responsibility to know where their animals originate, how they are collected and handled, and what the trade’s effects are on reefs and reef-side communities. It seems that aquarists have a responsibility to treat the animals collected from the wild as the precious commodities they are instead of curios traded for pennies on the dollar.

If you know where your animals originate, you often have a better idea of howthey were collected and treated through the chain of custody. This should be important to every aquarist because a poorly treated animal is less likely to live or thrive.  More »

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From Reefs.com
Posted on August 28, 2014 by Caitlin Goldenberg

ulufeke 300x225 The Top Five Speakers I Cant Wait to See!: Grand FinaleHere we go, guys, the final round of my Top Five! This particular speaker sparked my interest not too long ago, based not only on the strides he’s made in the aquarium industry and his fascination with my absolute favorite thing ever- Cephalopods, but for how he came to be the Octo-Guru he is today. Richard Ross, Senior Biologist at the Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences, actually kicked off his career in a comedic fashion in the form of juggling and improv while pursuing a degree in Philosphy instead of the expected field of Biology. Eventually establishing himself as a full -time entertainer, he also began exploring the arts of glass blowing, founding his own glass blowing studio in Alameda, CA. After the birth of his daughter, Ross left his career as an entertainer and fulfilled the duties of a stay-at-home dad, where he was able to completely engulf himself in the beauty of the reef keeping hobby. He eventually made incredible breakthroughs in keeping Sepia bandensis, the Dwarf Cuttlefish, documenting the entire process. Rich began volunteering at the Steinhart Aquarium in 2003 after a divesting earthquake forced the animals to be moved to a holding facility. After years of volunteering and part-time employment, in 2008 he was offered an opportunity he could never turn down – the full-time position of managing their 212,000 gallon Philippine Coral Reef and associated exhibits. I haven’t had the pleasure of viewing this phenomenal system in person, but it’s on my list for this upcoming year. The reason this all fascinates me so much is I myself started of on a vastly different career path before I found myself here, writing this. While I’ve always had a passion for the ocean and it’s occupants, and my first job was scrubbing algae and doing water changes at the local fish store, I ended up following the culinary road, with a degree in Professional Cooking. Unhappy with the field I found myself itching to get back into Reefs, discovered my love for the Octopus, and quickly started following Ross’ career. Needless to say, I consider him a huge influence in my endeavors. This year, he’ll be speaking about Phosphate, what it means, and how it effects your reef systems and how it influences a thriving tank. It’s going to be riveting, I seriously am jumping up and down with glee for this one. For more about Rich and his career path, check his website here.

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Rich Ross talking to Frank Reece talk about field work, science and big tanks. Click here to listen.

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A photo of larger Pacific striped octopus.

Most octopuses are loners, but larger Pacific striped octopuses, like the one shown here, display surprising social behaviors.

PHOTOGRAPH BY RICH ROSS, CALIFORNIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

Katherine Harmon Courage

for National Geographic

PUBLISHED JULY 28, 2014

If recent octopus discoveries have taught us anything, it’s that these eight-armed ocean dwellers are smart. They can use tools, change color in an instant, and commission their arms to solve problems. But they generally do all this as loners.

 Now, new research into a surprisingly social octopus is shattering even the most expansive ideas of known octopus behavior. (Related: “Journey of Octopus Discovery Reveals Them to Be Playful, Curious, Smart.”)

Panamanian biologist Aradio Rodaniche first reported the Pacific striped octopus in 1991 off the coast of Nicaragua, noting its strange behavior—living in groups of possibly up to 40, laying multiple egg clutches, and mating face-to-face and sucker-to-sucker. Most other octopus species, for instance, come together only to mate.

But scientists didn’t see another one of these curious octopuses for another 20 years, when Richard Ross, a biologist at the California Academy of Sciences, came across one in 2012. Through a commercial collector, he acquired several wild specimens to study in the lab.

Ross is one of the few scientists who are studying and observing some of this octopus’s truly bizarre—and sometimes anxiety-provoking—behavior, which he and his team will describe in an upcoming publication.

More »

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