Thursday, August 30, 2012

Those Cuckolding Cetaceans

So yeah, I'm pretty sure that's where whale sharks come from.  That's why no one can find the pupping grounds.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fishy Physiology - Boozing with Bubbles

Ever wonder why goldfish can live for such a long time in a a tiny bowl with no aeration?

Ready for an fishy physiology lesson?

You'd better be. Shit's about to get sciency.

Goldfish, like all animals, prefer to extract energy from whatever delicious things they're able to find and eat through aerobic respiration.  First, with some metabolic magic known as glycolosis, glucose is converted to pyruvate, releasing a small amount of energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This pyruvate then makes it's way to the mitochondria where through some craziness known at the Krebs cycle it is oxidized to form even more ATPs (Like 8 of them!).

But this oxidation requires... oxygen, believe it or not.

Many carps (goldfish are closely related to the common carp) naturally live in shallow ponds and lakes that freeze over during the winter, shutting off oxygen to the waters below. So goldfish have evolved an alternative metabolic pathway that anaerobically converts pyruvate into acetaldehyde which is then reduced to ethanol, releasing some energy (though not as much as the Krebs cycle). Similarly to those yeasty beasties that make all of your favorite beverages so delicious.

As far as I know no one's tried brewing a beer with goldfish.

There'd be a lot of fish poop, which would probably have a negative effect on mouth feel.

But, if you think about it, that goldfish you've left in the disgusting bowl on your desk for the past month without a water change is probably working on a buzz.

He is also probably going to die soon.

Change your fish's water.

- Couple days later -

- Couple days later -

- Couple days later -

Want to learn more about goldfish metabolic pathways? Johnson & Bernard 1983

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stay in school, kids.

Using what were essentially video games for fish, researchers were recently able to provide new evidence that schooling behavior in fish likely evolved as a survival strategy, a widely accepted, but until now, not directly supported hypothesis.

Sometimes following the herd can be a good thing.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Noisy Neighbors - IN COLOR!

Last month we learned that whales are able to "block their ears" to cope with loud noises. While whales probably aren't stuffing kelp in their ears whenever a cruise ship plows by (science fact: toothed whales actually do a lot of their hearing through the pan bone, a fat filled window in their jaw), researchers are still in the dark as to the exact mechanisms of this acoustic alleviation.

On a side note, I had the privilege of meeting Kina the false killer whale (the subject of this research) while spending a semester at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. You might have heard of his famous wholphin roommate Kekaimalu.

Kina the false killer whale. (Photo A. Paradise)

My professor using an acoustic device to test Kina's hearing. (Photo A. Paradise)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Could it be lAUVe?

To avoid any confusion, that's an AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) not a torpedo.  This particular one is a Tethys design.