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Contains articles regarding fish and aquariums in the news.

Marine Biology in the News: Famed Oceanographer Jacques Piccard Dies


Eileen here. The oceanographic and scientific community lost one of its pioneers this past weekend with the death of a renowned Swiss oceanographer, Jacques Piccard. Piccard was one of the first deep-sea explorers and, along with Lt. Don Walsh from the United States Navy, reached a greater depth than any other scientist.

Jacques Piccard had science and discovery in his genes from birth. His father, uncle and aunt were revolutionary aeronauts and balloonists who helped the scientific community understand jet streams and atmospheric currents. Jacques’s own son is continuing this family tradition and completed a trip around the world in a balloon using his grandfather’s knowledge of the air current and his father’s research of deep-sea currents as inspiration.

Jacques Piccard is most famous for his 1960 dive into the Mariana Trench with Lt. Walsh. The Mariana Trench is located near Guam in the Pacific Ocean. It is the deepest point in the oceans known to man and Piccard’s dive went to about 35,797 ft below the surface to reach the bottom of part of the trench. Piccard is quoted as saying one of the most surprising parts of the 20-minute dive was the life discovered there, life that many marine biologists said could not possibly survive because of the extreme pressure at that depth. The submarine used for the dive reportedly started leaking during the dive and cut the trip even shorter than planned. That submarine, the Trieste, was eventually retired and inspired other naval research submarines as Piccard continued his research with the Untied States Navy until a few years ago. Piccard was 86 years old when he passed away on Saturday.

Read more about Jacques Piccard:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/02/world/europe/02piccard.html?em
http://www.physorg.com/news144769379.html
http://www.legacy.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Piccard

Until next time,
Eileen

Freaky Fish from the Deep – Just In Time for Halloween

Hey everyone! Gearing up for Halloween, I’ve been looking at some of the freakier fish that I’ve been introduced to over the years. We get a lot of weird things in here, some are lumpy, some are crusty, some have large fangs, and some have no eyes. But some things we don’t often get to scrutinize are obscure deep water marine species, for obvious reasons. I’ve watched a lot of documentaries and read lots articles on deep sea species, newly discovered and others, and I always find them fascinating and frightening at the same time. With the increasing ability of scientists to explore the depths of the world’s oceans, it seems like we’re introduced to a new and amazing creature or creatures at every turn. One segment of the Blue Planet series on Discovery Channel was entirely dedicated to creatures nearly no one had ever seen before, all from ridiculous depths and conditions. From the crazy little pea-sized predators to huge lurking sharks and cephalopods, it truly is the most alien environment on the planet.
I came across this article of some rather ghostly fish recently in the news, the deepest living species filmed yet, and I thought I could share it with you all. These pasty white snailfish fish remind me of big tadpoles or brotulinas. Apparently they’re social creatures that swarmed to the bait dropped 5 miles down to the bottom of this Pacific trench. They’re simple yet you have to be amazed at the conditions where they exist with unimaginable pressure, temperatures and darkness. Anyway, the article is pretty interesting, so please take a minute to read it if you haven’t seen it anywhere already.

To read the article, click here, or check out the video below.

Thanks and enjoy!

Patty

Invasive Species update: Volitan Lionfish

 

 

They came from foreign waters. With stealth, appetite, and agility on their side, they’ve become one of the most successful invasive species in recent history, and realistically, the invasion has only just begun. Their deadly and dizzying beauty is of little consolation to those following the invasion of the Volitan Lionfish.
About a year ago, Dave posted a blog on lionfish as invasive species and the responsibility of aquarists to not release non-native species into waterways. Brandon has followed up with similar articles on some other invasive non-native species, too. Just this week I came across 2 more recent articles about the lionfish invasion, this time about populations established in the Caribbean and off the coast for Florida. I wanted to bring you the articles and an update, as the problem is only getting worse as we could have predicted.

Both articles pinpoint the beginning of the problem as six specimens that escaped into open waterways from a Miami waterfront aquarium that was smashed during hurricane Andrew in 1992, though it is highly likely that there were other contributions, too. It is becoming a serious concern as the predators multiply, their numbers in the thousands, and devastate native populations. The articles liken the invasion to a plague of locusts. NOAA studies show that the populations in some areas have increased tremendously, from 22 per hectare in 2004 to 200 per hectare in 2008. The predators are having a huge effect on commercial fish populations and populations of herbivores that keep algae and other marine vegetation at bay, especially on reefs.

As the drama unfolds, it really is compelling to read about, and it will be interesting and scary to see what will happen in the next couple of years if there are no solutions found to keep the populations in check. Scientists are scurrying to find natural predators of lionfish to aid in control, and they’re encouraging fishermen and restaurants to utilize them as entrees. It’s open season on these fish in many places, but with such huge numbers and range, the outlook is bleak for control…disturbing on so many levels.

http://blogs.thatpetplace.com/thatfishblog/2007/11/07/invasive-species-volitan-lionfish/
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/travel/news/article4538370.ece
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/travel/news/article4538370.ece

Until next time, Patty

 

Massive Stingray Migration in the Gulf of Mexico

Patty here. I received a link to this article from a friend, and instantly thought it would be terrific to share. It features some amazing photographs of thousands of Cownose Rays migrating through the Gulf of Mexico to feeding grounds. Migrations like this happen biannually throughout the animal world, whether birds, mammals, butterflies, or these majestic rays, I’m always awed by the magnitude. These photos are amazing, and they make me feel really small, I mean imagine being surrounded by 3000 or so rays with up to a 6 foot “wingspan” WOW! The article made me remember that with all the economic, political and social turmoil in the world, life goes on seemingly without a hitch out there, just like it has for eons

To read the original article and view more pictures check out: Stingray Migration

An Invasive Species Account: The Northern Snakehead

Please welcome back Brandon Moyer for another excellent post. Brandon Moyer

We carry hundreds of different species of fish and inverts here at That Fish Place, That Pet Place that come from all around the world.  There are, however, certain species that are no longer available to us by act of law.  Their release into the wild and the lifestyles and behaviors they exhibit has earned them the title of invasive species.  This blog is the first in a series of popular invasive pet species accounts.  One of these is commonly inquired about here at That Fish Place and is notorious worldwide.

The Northern Snakehead, Channa argus, is one species of fish that has been introduced into non-native waters where it has thrived and disrupted its new habitat.  The snakehead family originates from Asia and parts of Africa.  The Northern Snakehead, which is invasive in the United States, originates from Southeast China and Korea.  Snakeheads are apex predators, meaning that they stand at the top of the food chain and eat almost anything they can get in their mouth.  Females can release anywhere from 1,300 to 15,000 eggs during a single spawn.  They can spawn up to five times in a single year.  They can survive in waters which range in temperature from 0 to 30 degrees Celsius.  What makes them more threatening is that they can survive out of water for four days by breathing air with modified organs, even longer if they construct a muddy burrow.

The first invasive snakehead in the United States was discovered in Spiritwood Lake in California in 1997.  The first established population of snakeheads was found in Crofton, Maryland in 2002.  This population provided proof that snakeheads were able to invade and flourish in US waters.  Since then juvenile and adult snakeheads have been found in the Schuylkill River in Pennsylvania, Lake Wylie in North Carolina, Meadow Lake in New York, and several other states in the eastern United States.  When snakeheads enter a new body of water they tend to disrupt the food chain.  Juvenile snakeheads compete for food with juveniles of native species.  Adults also compete for resources with adults of native species and become so aggressive that they will also kill and eat them.
Northern Snakehead

Their aggressive behavior, distinct appearance, and large size made snakeheads a popular aquarium fish, although due to their potential to invade natural ecosystems, they are illegal in over half of the United States, including Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York.  Irresponsibility was the main cause of their invasion into US waters.  We as responsible aquarists must realize the impacts that snakeheads, and many other species of fish, may potentially have in the wild to prevent these species turning from pets to pests.

I hope that this blog was informative and illustrated the importance of keeping our pets in the aquarium.  Check back for more invasive species blogs. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Thanks Brandon!

Until Next Time,

Dave