Another summer has ended, the kids are back in school and Carnival of the Blue is back at the Saipan Blog, your humble host for the fourth consecutive September. They say that life begins at 40, and so it is with Carnival of the Blue. For 40 straight months ocean bloggers the world over have come to rely on Carnival of the Blue to provide the best in ocean blogging. This month's carnival is no different; I received nearly 30 (!) ocean blog submissions, and almost all of them relate to the theme Top of the Food Chain.
Now, I always co-opt Carnival of the Blue to promote my own selfish propaganda, so here it goes: After successfully lobbying President George W. Bush for the creation of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument and unsuccessfully running for Mayor of Saipan, I moved back to the mainland United States and somehow landed a job at the Smithsonian Institute. So what am I doing at the Smithsonian? I'm creating Google Ocean content in a collaboration between Google, the Smithsonian Ocean Portal and Mission Blue. I've already created nearly 150 Google Ocean posts for the Explore the Ocean layer, and more are on the way. My posts will have a permanent home on the Ocean Portal by the end of the year, but in the meantime they can be viewed on the Mission Blue website or by downloading Google Earth. Also, if you are participating in the 24th Coral Reef Task Force Meeting in Saipan next week, I'll be presenting a workshop on Google Ocean along with Dr. Bob Richmond from the University of Hawaii.
With that out of the way: On to the carnival!
Alright, so when you hear the words predator and ocean put together, what do you think of? A lot of people would say sharks and several bloggers contributed shark blogs.
Since this is my blog, let's start with me. Did you know that there are over 440 species of sharks? Two of those species are endemic to the Gulf of Mexico, meaning that they live in those waters and nowhere else. I wanted to create Google Ocean posts of both endemic species, but photos were hard to come by. I found a photo of the Gulf of Mexico Smoothound Shark taken by Andy Murch, but the Campeche catshark was impossible to find. It turns out that the only specimen ever found (!) was sitting in a jar in the Smithsonian Museum Support Center's Pod Five (made famous in Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol). Luckily, Dr. Sandra Raredon was able to fish him out of his permanent ethanol bath and take this photo.
I imagine he was cuter when he was alive. Both endemic species have since been uploaded to Google Ocean. Check out the Gulf of Mexico Smoothhound Shark and the Campeche Catshark on the Mission Blue website.
Bryan Skerry (thanks for submitting these posts, Jeff!) had two shark blogs posted at the New England Aquarium Global Explorers Blog this month. Clear Water & Mighty Makos discusses encounters with makos, while Thinking About Sharks offers some thoughts on shark conservation with photos of Caribbean reef sharks, an oceanic whitetip shark, a mako shark and a thresher shark.
Speaking of aquariums, Al Dove, senior scientist at Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta and junior blogger at Deep Type Flow, offers us Dancing with a Giant, a post about his encounter with the Whale Shark, a shark that has been deadly to millions upon millions of...plankton.
Richard from the RTSea blog brings us Sharks Bite Back Without Biting: study finds deadly bacteria, a blog about a new study showing deadly bacteria in the mouths of seven different species of shark. Gross.
The Dorsal Fin tells us about a blue shark that beached itself and some people who tried to save it in New Jersey shark story reels in the media.
Chuck at Ya Like Dags offers up The Jaws of Death: How Spiny Dogfish Destroy Their Prey, a blog about predation, biomechanics, and spiny dogfish (that's a shark, by the way).
Our second to last shark post comes from shark guru David Shiffman at Southern Fried Scientist. Shark Week 2010: A big step in the right direction! is a quick rundown on this year's Discovery Channel Shark Week. My impressions? Ultimate Air Jaws was awesome! And the Dos Equis commercial convinced me to go out and buy this t-shirt.
And since he likens himself as the Yoda of shark bloggers, David also bats cleanup in our shark section. His second offering is Shark Conservation: The problem, the goal, and how to get there, a detailed introduction to the world of shark conservation by a marine biologist.
And that's it for apex-predators. Now onto some adora-predators:
Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of sea urchins (do sea urchins have hearts?) like looking into the face of this beady-eyed killer. You and I, however, are not sea urchins (at least I'm not), and what we see is a seafood aficionado in serious need of a hug. Sadly, California's sea otter population has declined for the second consecutive year. Infectious disease, including a number of issues connected with their food chain, is continuing to stress this fragile population. A young otter now on exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium will not be released to the wild after succumbing to intestinal parasites from eating sand crabs. Read more at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Blog's Sea Otter Census.
Carly at the Featured Creature delivers The Rarest & Smallest Cetacean, a blog about the fewer than 150 Vaquitas remaining in the wild. It is time for people to become aware of this wonderful creature. Follow the link to learn how you can help.
Corey Finger at 10,000 Birds brings us soaring photos of common terns carrying breakfast. Sucks to be you, breakfast!
Moving on to the cool stuff: Invertebrates!
Surprisingly nobody submitted a post on Sharktopus this carnival. Perhaps because he isn't real?
Samia Madwar is a guest blogger at the Ocean Portal this month with her post Pinning Down the Jellyfish. Quick: without clicking on the link, can you name the three classes of jellyfish?
Dustin from Spawning is Imminent wrote about jellyfish, too. His post War on Man is about the recent outbreak of jellyfish and man-o-wars on Spain's coasts and shares an interesting story about a friend and her run in with a Portuguese man-o-war. I know what you're thinking. You can't wait to read whether or not he had to pee on her.
From jellyfish to starfish, John at Kind of Curious takes us on a tidepool tour of Olympic National Park with Tide Pools at Rialto Beach. Meanwhile, Marcus Ng from the The Annotated Budak blog takes us on a tour of the tidepools of Singapore's Cyrene Reef with Stellar by Starlight and Fishtrapped.
Miriam at Deep Sea News gives us Attack of the “Sea Angel” Pteropods!!! No commentary necessary. Speaking of Deep Sea News, they had big news today: Rick MacPherson has joined the ranks of DSNers...less than three weeks after crying on my shoulder that nobody was reading his blog Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice and Sunsets. You can't make stuff like that up (Alright, so I made that up).
Michael Bok from Arthropoda delivers a post on the ninjas of the deep: mantis shrimp. How mantis shrimp see circularly polarized light discusses, um, how mantis shrimp see circularly polarized light.
Susannah from Wanderin' Weeta gives us two posts this month. In the holdfast: feathers, spines, eyes and ... mustaches? has some cool photos of the polychaetes, mussels, worms, and sea urchins living in a holdfast. In Full Tank she shows us what she has in her tank.
Hannah Waters from Culturing Science gives us Marine Snow: dead organisms and poop as manna in the ocean. It is a well-known fact that any blog post with poop in the title is likely to be good reading.
I was hoping that someone would catch on that humans are at the top of the ocean food chain and I wasn't disappointed. Mark Powell at Blogfish submits Climate change creates a war over fish, a discussion on how climate change is driving fish stocks away from their traditional grounds.
And since this is the year that BP destroyed the Gulf of Mexico, no Carnival of the Blue would be complete without blog posts about Deepwater Horizon. Rich Maltzman from Earth PM gives us Green Project Management and the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill while Emily Fisher from The Beacon (Oceana's Blog) gives us Stormy Seas at Oil Spill Ground Zero. By the way, the Oceana Latitude is in the Gulf of Mexico investigating the oil spill until the beginning of October. To learn more check out their blog and expedition website.
And that is your Carnival of the Blue. I'll see you in twelve months for Carnival of the Blue 52!