Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Squid Lab

Six interesting facts about squids include:
  • Because of their often deep oceanic habitat it is rare that they are seen or studied by humans.
  • At the front of the squids mantle is a directionally controllable siphon which the squid forces water out of and allows it to navigate and move through the ocean.
  • The skin of the squid is covered in chromatopheres, which give squid the ability to change color and adapt to its environment allowing it to change color, blend in and camouflage itself with the environment.
  • While the size of squid can vary widely most squid are usually no more than 2 feet long, the giant squid however may reach a length of over 40 feet, and a colossal squid was said to have been captured measuring in at 46 feet.
  •  Large squid may also eat smaller squid and large marine mammals, and have been known to attack sharks and whales by wrapping its tentacles around it and strangling its prey.
  • In order to protect themselves squid let out a black ink which darkens and clouds the water making it difficult for predators to sea them, they also have the ability to change color making them appear almost transparent and allowing them to blend in with the surrounds.
For the lab, the most interesting thing we did was rip out the ink sack, and let the ink drip out.

The most disgusting part of this lab was smell. It was absolutely horrid, causing me to gag on the stench.
I liked that we were able to see the tentacles up closely, but I hated all the slim the squid was covered in.
If i changed this lab, I would provide gloves because there is no way I was going to touch the squid with my bare hands. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

U.S. Navy

The four main parts of the navy are the ocean, airplanes, submarines, and ships. The navy projects US sea power across the globe. Their goal is to protect all people around the world and ensure peace.

What I found most interesting is the fact that while the navy works diligently, there is actually quite of bit of free time in their career, with some soldiers even bringing ps3s on their deployments.

The talk increased my understanding of the ocean by the fact that the navy uses many scientific instruments to help detect enemy ships or airplanes and by mapping the sea floor to navigate in submarines.

Something that was quite memorable to me was that still, even in 2013, there are still some branches on the US navy that don't allow women. This is absurd and should be corrected. Equal rights means equal rights to jobs.   

- Victoria Mehlhaff - 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Whale ID

Flukes are used to identify whales because scientists can study their travel patterns and be able to differentiate whales from each other. Also, scientists can see how long Humpback whales live by identifying them using their flukes.

The most difficult part of this lab was the fact that if the fluke is all black and no big or noticeable indentations on it, it's extremely difficult to differentiate between the whales.

I believe that the lab can be improved if the pictures were put in numerical order and by printing the pictures in color instead of black and white to make it easier to tell what is part of the tail and what is the water.

- Victoria Mehlhaff -

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Overfishing is a major problem facing our world's oceans today. We are losing species as well as entire ecosystems. As a result the overall ecological unity of our oceans are under stress and at risk of collapse. We are in risk of losing a valuable food source many depend upon for social, economical or dietary reasons. A total of almost 80% of the world's fisheries are fully- to over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse. Worldwide, about 90% of the stocks of large predatory fish stocks are already gone.

Overfishing threatens coastal nations down to the local level, devastating communities whose chief source of labor and revenue hinges on healthy, plentiful stocks of fish. Overfishing threatens their long-term food security, particularly in developing countries.

To help with overfishing, anyone can do it. Just eat smaller portions, don't buy the big fish, and eat your vegetables like your mother said! 

- Victoria Mehlhaff -

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Coral Bleaching

Corals have a limited temperature range within which they can live. When it gets too hot, they get stressed out and this relationship with the algae goes bad. The zooxanthellae are ejected from the corals, turning them white, getting the term bleached.
If these zooxanthellae aren’t reabsorbed in the near term, the coral will die. 

The causes include: 
    * Extra-bright sunlight, especially when combined with the aforementioned extra-warm seawater
    * Disease
    * Pollution from urban or agricultural run-off
    * Changes in the salinity, or saltiness, of seawater
    * Sedimentation from undersea activities like dredging

Without the zooxanthellae, the animals that live on the coral reefs won't have anything to eat and die. The organisms that eat the other ones will have less and less food and will eventually die. This is important because the result of coral bleaching is the complete destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of many species. 

- Victoria Mehlhaff -

Friday, March 8, 2013

Marine Debris

Marine debris can be extremely harmful towards all of marine life. Four types of marine debris include: Monofilament, plastic rings, plastic pellets, and plastic bags.

Improperly discarded monofilament fishing line can entangle coral, seabirds, marine mammals, and even humans. This can cause mutilation or even death.

Plastic rings can get stuck around the neck or body of animals who are curious when young, but can cut into the organism's skin as it grows older. It can also lead to deformations or even death.

Plastic pellets are small, round pieces of plastic that are melted down to create plastic products. They are often spilled into the ocean, and birds mistake them for eggs and bring them back to their young, killing their babies unintentionally. The birds will feel full but will die of malnutrition and starvation.

Plastic bags are harmful because they are often mistaken for jellyfish, sea turtles' favorite food. Other animals such as dolphins, whales, and sharks also ingest plastic bags thinking they're jellyfish. The animals can die of asphyxiation or starvation as a result.

We can help prevent these problems by recycling plastic more, cutting up plastic rings before throwing them away, dispose monofilament in the correct way, and by keeping plastic pellets in more secure holdings.

- Victoria Mehlhaff -

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sea Grass

Sea grass adaptations include:
Complex root structure to anchor plant in the sediment, and extract nutrients and minerals
Photosynthesis restricted to cells in leaves
Transport minerals and nutrients in aerenchyma and the lacunae (veins)
Reproduction via flowers, fruits and seeds

Sea grass provides food and shelter for many organisms, and is a nursery ground for commercially important prawn and fish species. The high primary production rates of sea grasses are closely linked to the high production rates of associated fisheries. These plants support numerous herbivore- and detritivore-based food chains, and are considered very productive pastures of the sea. The associated economic values of sea grass meadows are very large, although not always easy to quantify.

Sea grasses on reef flats and near estuaries are also nutrient sinks, buffering or filtering nutrient and chemical inputs to the marine environment. They also stabilize coastal sediments.

Marine travelers are large animals that cruise the sea grass beds in search of food, but only stay for short periods of time. This includes dolphins, whales, sharks, manatees, and sea turtles.

Marine residents live in the sea grass all their lives. This includes crustaceans and epiphytes .

Migrants are animals that use the sea grass as a nursery and then move into open water once they mature. This includes a multitude of fish.

Sea Grass Benefits

Sea grass provides many benefits for the marine ecosystem. Some include:

  • Sea grass provides a nursery for young fish and crustaceans. The young organisms live in the nursery until they're big enough to have a chance at survival in the open ocean. The relative safety of sea grass meadows provides an ideal environment for juvenile fish and invertebrates to conceal themselves from predators. Sea grass leaves are also ideal for the attachment of larvae and eggs.
  •  Sea grass is a permanent habitat for many different types of epiphytes such as snails and small crustaceans. Species such as clams, worms, crabs, and echinoderms, like starfishes, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins, use the buffering capabilities of sea grasses to provide a refuge from strong currents. The dense network of roots established by sea grasses also helps deter predators from digging through the substratum to find epfaunal prey organisms.

  • Sea grass filters the water of sediment, leaving the water clearer for the coral reef the requiresunlight to live. Sea grasses help trap fine sediments and particles that are suspended in the water column, which increases water clarity. When a sea floor area lacks sea grass communities, the sediments are more frequently stirred by wind and waves, decreasing water clarity, affecting marine animal behavior, and generally decreasing the recreational quality of coastal areas.

    Sea grass's economic value can be measured through other industries, such as commercial and recreational fisheries and nature and wildlife tourism, which rely on this habitat to survive. Since most of Florida's fishery species spend at least part of their life cycle within seagrass communities, sea grasses are vital to the survival of these fishing industries.
  • While some organisms, including the endangered Florida manatee and green sea turtle, graze directly on sea grass leaves, others use sea grasses indirectly to provide nutrients. Bottlenose dolphins are often found feeding on organisms that live in sea grass areas. Detritus from bacterial decomposition of dead sea grass plants provides food for worms, sea cucumbers, crabs, and filter feeders such as anemones and ascidians. Further decomposition releases nutrients, which, when dissolved in water, are re-absorbed by sea grasses and phytoplankton.



Blue-ringed Octopus

The Blue-Ringed Octopus also known as Hapalochlaena maculosac lives in shallow marine waters and tide pools and is common off the coast of Australia and the western Pacific Ocean. It is most active after dark, and spends most of its day hidden in its nest. The blue-ringed octopus has no skeleton and is thus very flexible and maneuverable. It can squeeze into tiny crevices and make dens in bottles, aluminum cans, or mollusk shells. The blue-ringed octopus is also known to burrow into sand or gravel to conceal itself.


When agitated, its 50 or 60 bright blue rings appear and pulsate with color, as a warning. Inside the salivary glands of the blue-ringed octopus live colonies of bacteria that produce tetrodotoxin, the potent neurotoxin found in pufferfish and other animals. A bite from a blue-ringed octopus can completely paralyze and kill an adult human in a matter of minutes.

The blue-ringed octopus feeds primarily on crabs and mollusks, ambushing from behind and enveloping prey with its eight arms. Using its bird-like beak, the octopus bites a hole through its victim’s shell to inject toxic saliva. With its arms and beak, the creature tears soft pieces from the prey, sucking the rest of the meat from the shell once it becomes partially digested by the saliva.

Packets of sperm rest in the grooved tip of the male’s modified third arm, called a hectocotylus. When mating, the male slips this grooved tip under the mantle and into the oviduct of the female through a gill slit, and transfers multiple sperm packets, or spermatophores. The female lays her eggs in several unattached clumps, which she carries in her arms until they hatch. After the young emerge from their eggs, the mother dies.

An interesting fact is that the blue-ringed octopus, like all octopuses, has three hearts and blue blood. I chose the Blue-ringed octopus because it's poisonous and I think it looks pretty.

- Victoria Mehlhaff -