Ok, now that that attention grabbing headline is out of the way, here is what happened. A lady in Korea taste tested a part of a whole parboiled squid, and had pain in her gums, tongue and cheek. Turns out par boiling doesn’t diminish the squids spermatophores capacity for firing and shooting into whatever is nearby. Have I even mentioned how awesome and amazing cephalopods are?
Evolution is amazing, the world is just awesome and gut your squid before you eat or cook it. The peer reviewed paper on this incident (its not the first time this has happened, really) is available here. Me talking about it on Penn’s Sunday School with Penn Jillette and Michael Goudeau is available here. Danna Staaf, the squid sex expert who first broke the tale here, talked about about the story recently at Nerd Nite SF in the video above – and does a great job explaining the complex apparatus of squid sperm delivery with amazing video support. PS – If you don’t know what Nerd Nite is, click here and find one near you. If there isn’t one near you start one. Super cool events.
PPS – If the above story isn’t enough squid sex for you, and not enough Nerd Nite for you, click here to see the talk I was privileged to give at a Nerd Nite SF last year about cephalopod sex.
In anticipation of the MBI workshop coming up on July 28th in Bloomfield Hills, MI, I have been breeding everything I can get my hands on – including the dwarf seahorse Hippocampus zosterae pictured above. These little seahorses max out at about an inch, and both parents and fry can be raised and maintained with easy to hatch, enriched Artemia. If you have a fuge or a spare 5 gallon tank, why aren’t you breeding these guys? Or some clownfish? Or some Banggai cardinals? Seriously, find someone who is breeding any of these easy fish (buy captive bred animals as it is possible wild populations of some of these fish may be in trouble), get some yourself and do it. Little to no impact on wild populations, super fun, super educational, very easy, and there is nothing like the cuteness of little animals you can raise yourself…why isn’t everyone doing it? No reason I can think of, so get to it.
The last year has seen a lot of heated discussion and possible legislation regarding the Marine Aquarium trade. In these discussions everyone seems to have data on the numbers of fishes that move through the trade, but the sources of that data often somehow seems ‘iffy’. Today a new paper was published in the open access journal PLoS One (making scientific papers available to anyone for no cost!) that examines a years worth of US marine fish import paperwork to present a clear picture of how many fish of what kinds are actually being imported into the country. The 9 page paper by Andrew Rhyne et al, available here, not only presents useful information, but also gives a great overview of the process of importing fish into the US as well as addressing some invasive species concerns. I expect in the coming weeks there will be a lot of themselves. Finally, actual data is available, and anyone that has ever entered into a discussion about the sustainability, ethics or responsibility of reefkeeping should take advantage of it.
After two weeks of slogging through the jungle, being forced to endure huge stick insects, wild pygmy elephants, several species of hornbills and a Tarsier, we are finally getting down to seeing some “good wild life.” (Ow. My wife just kicked me, but she knows I am kidding – the land portion of this trip has been astounding). So far we have dived house reefs of various resorts, all of which have artificial reef structures that are rather mature and teeming with life. Not only are they fantastic to explore, but it’s great to see local operations building habitat. Tomorrow we dive Sipadan Island, and I can hardly contain myself, but that has to be its own blog post.
I woke up this morning in my room on stilts built over the reef. From the font window I watched the sun peek up over the Celebes Sea and bathe my sleeping daughter in ‘sweet light’. I walked out the front door, and as I made way to the 5 star dive center, I watched the local village come to life. The juxtaposition between the luxury of the resort, and the stark substance lifestyle of the local community was sobering as I prepared for the first dive of the day.
Less than 30 minutes later, fishing village forgotten, we were diving paradise. My wife was swimming through a tornado of jacks when a tremendous KRACKKKKKKBOOMMMM shattered the idyllic experience. What the hell was that? The dive master and the 5 newbie divers with us didn’t react at all. To me, the sound was overpowering and terrifying. I hoped it was some kind of construction project, but the recent round of dynamite fishing and reef destruction in Komodo made me think it was not construction at all. Twice more on the dive, the calm was split by the jarring shock of explosions. The sound was unbelievable. It was awful to be surrounded by life and beauty but to know that animals and habitat were being destroyed nearby in the name of easy food. I was moved to tears both under water and now while I write this.
At the surface the local dive master confirmed that it was dynamite fishing but that it was ‘far away’ – sound travels far underwater. The aquarist in me was horrified, but I couldn’t help thinking as a father; my family has never gone hungry. It’s easy for me, with my first world values, to wish education and responsible practices would prevent this kind of destruction…but if my daughter needed a meal, I would do whatever I had to do to provide for her. And, if I found a practice that worked, that ensured that my little girl would have a full belly at night, I am not sure what anyone could do to make me give it up.
It’s a heartbreaker. Lets keep that in mind as we are tempted to judge real world practices that we feel might impact our hobby of keeping reefs in our living rooms. We need solutions that fill bellies as well as fill glass boxes.
PS I was filming during the dive and I think I was shooting during the one or two of the explosions. When I get back to my computer, I’ll listen to the footage and if I have any of the explosions recorded, I will post a follow up. For now, I have to go prepare for another dive in some of the most beautiful reefscape I have even been on, and hope that I won’t hear any more destruction in the distance.
It seems to me that we hear a lot about automation disasters, but not so much about automation successes. That makes sense because disasters tend to stick with us when we hear about them, and we just don’t talk about everyday successes because well, they are just regular every day happenings. So, here is a non everyday automation success story.
Recently, I had to leave town immediately and unexpectedly for what turned out to be several family medical emergencies in succession (it was difficult, but everyone turned out to be fine). I was gone for 10 days with no time to prep the tank, though I did franticly arrange with friends and colleagues to move some octopus I am working with to a lab at UC Berkeley. The whole time I was away I thought about my reef tank exactly once on day 4, the first extension of the trip, when my wife and daughter asked me if they were feeding the tank the right way. While in the hospital dealing with emergency room doctors and drama, the back of my mind was not also busily worrying about my home systems, I was able to focus on what was right in front of me.
My advice – automate everything you can on your reef. Not only will it free you from the some of the drudgery of every day maintenance and help keep the system stable over time, but it will give you some piece of mind when you are out of town on vacation or for an unexpected emergency.