First footage of the elusive barreleye deep sea fish

xin_18a13adc79dc45ecb8962186c588b6221Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute recently solved the half-century-old mystery about the tubular eyes of the barreleye fish (Macropinna microstoma) which help collect light.and because of their tunnel shape can fix on one object directly above the fish’s head. Bruce Robison and Kim Reisenbichler’s research suggests that their unusual eyes can rotate within a transparent shield that covers the fish’s head. This allows the barreleye to peer up at potential prey or focus forward to see what it is eating. Their large, flat fins allow them to remain nearly motionless in the water, and to maneuver very precisely (much like MBARI’s ROVs). the two spots above the fish’s mouth are are olfactory organs called nares, which are analogous to human nostrils. Their small mouths suggest that they can be very precise and selective in capturing small prey. On the other hand, their digestive systems are very large, which suggests that they can eat a variety of small drifting animals as well as jellies. In fact, the stomachs of the two net-caught fish contained fragments of jellies.

These deep-sea fish in the family Opisthoproctidae “barreleyes” because their eyes are tubular in shape and usually live at a depth in the ocean where sunlight from the surface fades to complete blackness. They use their ultra-sensitive tubular eyes to search for the faint silhouettes of prey overhead.
When the barreleye is facing downward, its eyes are still looking straight up. The barreleye in the video is about 140 mm (six inches) long.

Robison and Reisenbichler used video from MBARI’s remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to study barreleyes in the deep waters just offshore of Central California. At depths of 600 to 800 meters (2,000 to 2,600 feet) below the surface, the ROV cameras typically showed these fish hanging motionless in the water, their eyes glowing a vivid green in the ROV’s bright lights. The ROV video shows that this fish’s eyes are surrounded by a transparent, fluid-filled shield that covers the top of the fish’s head.

This face-on view of a barreleye shows its transparent shield lit up by the lights of MBARI’s remotely operated vehicle Tiburon. The two spots above the fish’s mouth are are olfactory organs called nares, which are like the human nostrils.
Most of the time, the fish hangs motionless in the water, with its body in a horizontal position and its eyes looking upward. The green pigments in its eyes may filter out sunlight coming directly from the sea surface, helping the barreleye spot the bioluminescent glow of jellies or other animals directly overhead. When it spots prey (such as a drifting jelly), the fish rotates its eyes forward and swims upward, in feeding mode.

Barreleyes deep-sea environment is inhabitated by many different types of jellies. Some of the most common are siphonophores (colonial jellies) in the genus Apolemia. These siphonophores grow to over 10 meters (33 feet) long. Like living drift nets, they trail thousands of stinging tentacles, which capture copepods and other small animals. The researchers speculate that barreleyes may maneuver carefully among the siphonophore’s tentacles, picking off the captured organisms. The fish’s eyes would rotate to help the fish keep its “eyes on the prize,” while its transparent shield would protect the fish’s eyes from the siphonophore’s stinging cells

Video of Macropinna microstoma narrated by Bruce

Excerpts courtesy of 2009/barreleye

Image courtesy of the spanish.xinhuanetbarreleyeimage


Beauty in the sea-the Australian Pinecone fish

cleidopus_gloriamarispineapple-fishThe Pineapple Fish, or the Pinecone Fish (Cleidopus gloriamari)  is covered with spines, and has a brilliant yellow body with its’ scales outlined in black. If you look closely at the face of the fish it seems to be smiling. The edges of its mouth glow due to the luminescent bacteria that inhabit a structure at the sides of its mouth called the light organs. These bacteria are responsible for the glow which is usually green, but occasionally red in older Pineapple Fish.

The Pineapple or Pinecone Fish lives on the east and west coasts of Australia and the offshore waters off the northern New South Wales and Queensland coasts where it feeds on shrimp and small fish.


Excerpts courtesy of

Excerpts courtesy of

Image courtesy of Google Images and Cleidopus_gloriamaris 1

100,000 acres of pristine Utah Redrock Wilderness saved!

how-the-wests-energy-boom-could-threaten-drinking-water_11100,000 acres of beautiful Utah’s Redrock Wilderness by  Interior Secretary Salazar and Presisdent Obama and all od us that have helped make this a sweet win for us and posterity. The US government has cancels lease sales in Utah’s Redrock Wilderness Area. Let’s let  them know we appreciate their help and persistence.

In a stunning victory for our western wildlands, President Obama’s Interior Department has announced that it will cancel 77 oil and gas leases in Utah’s Redrock Wilderness. These leases were issued by the Bush administration during its final days in office. NRDC and our environmental partners challenged the giveaway in December, and succeeded in winning a temporary restraining order blocking the sale.

The Interior Department’s announcement means that more than 100,000 acres of Utah wilderness will be protected from oil and gas drilling, including lands next to Arches and Canyonlands national parks, Dinosaur National Monument, and Nine Mile Canyon. These pristine areas are rich in ancient rock art and other cultural artifacts.

The decision also signals that the Obama administration will likely be more willing to work to protect our last remaining wildlands. Let’s tell  them thanks.

Please send a message of thanks to the Interior Secretary Salazar and the Obama administration for putting our natural heritage before oil and gas profits.

Courtesy of NRDCOnline

The first whistling orangutan hints at origin of speech

Bonnie the first whistling orangutan is charming keepers and friends

at the National Zoo Washington DC. USA.

She does not whistle in harmony , but can sound a few notes. This is historic. Bonnie is the first of her kind to whistle. She is self taught. Her present keepers deny any ability to whistle, but they think she may be mimicking someone from her past.

Maybe she too is happy about the president Obama’s dedication to improving scientific research. Go Bonnie!

Whistling orangutan surprises zooPlay


Video courtesy of BBC and YahooNews

Mexican Bean Beetle a pesty cousin to the ladybug

Mexican Bean Beetle (Epilachna varivestris) is one of two harmful cousins of the ladybugs.mexican-bean-beetle
A young adult Mexican bean beetles are round, about 1/4 inch long, and yellow, but as they age their color becomes coppery. Though the Mexican bean beetle has mandibles that are typical of chewing insects, it does not swallow bits of food. Rather, it chews its food and consumes the plant juices. The leaves of garden beans such as snap, kidney, pinto, and lima, soybeans, alfalfa, clover, peanut, okra, eggplant, squash, and various weeds are its favorites.

In the winter adults live along fences, woodlots, or in stubble and can usually be found within 1/4 mile of the host plants and hibernate. In the spring as the weather warms, the beetles fly to the bean, sorgum plants, feed for a week or two, and then mate.

The female after mating will lay 400 to 500 eggs on average, but sometimes as many as three times this number have been recorded. The eggs, yellow and oval shaped, are laid in clusters on the undersides of leaves over a period of 3 to 6 weeks.

Larvae of the Mexican bean beetle hatch in 5 to 14 days and are about 1/3 of an inch long have sixteen black spots, eight on each wing cover with six branching spines on each segment of the bright yellow and feed for 2 to 5 weeks on leaves; in their early growth stages, they feed exclusively on the lower surface of the leaf. Bean pods may also be scarred, but this damage is seldom considered economic. Then they pupate on the undersurfaces of leaves. The pupae are bright yellow and have only remnants of larval spines. Adults emerge 7 to 10 days later and live from 4 to 6 weeks.In certain areas of the country the weather may allow for three generations of these beetles to emerge.

Both larvae and adults impart a skeletonized or lacy appearance to leaves by consuming the leaves’ epidermal layers. Heavily infested soybean fields take on a dusty appearance as leaves shrivel and turn brown.

Excerpts courtesy of Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension

Image courtesy of UIWeb

Australian Wildfires -losses challenge and remind us all to be ready

0_21_021109_koalaWildfire season is devasting large areas in Australia. Thousands of animals have died , hundreds of people have perished and loss of property and way of life is growing.

Sam the koala, who has become one of the poster children for the fire rescue efforts, is being treated at the Mountain Ash Wildlife Shelter in Rawson, 100 miles east of Melbourne, where she has attracted the attention of a male koala, nicknamed “Bob,” manager Coleen Wood said. The two have been inseparable, with Bob keeping a protective watch over his new friend, she said.

Meanwhile, workers at the shelter were scrambling to salve the wounds of possums, kangaroos, lizards “everything and anything,” Wood said.

“We had a turtle come through that was just about melted — still alive,” Wood said. “The whole thing was just fused together …from the intensity of the fire in the area.” Hundreds of burned, stressed and dehydrated animals including kangaroos, koalas, lizards and birds have already arrived at shelters across the scorched region. Rescuers have doled out antibiotics, pain relievers and fluids to the critters in a bid to keep them comfortable, but some of the severely injured were euthanized to spare any more suffering.

The animals arriving appear stressed, but generally seem to understand the veterinarians are trying to help them, Wood said. Kangaroos and koalas are widespread in Australia and are not particularly scared of humans.

Volunteers from the animal welfare group Victorian Advocates for Animals filled 10 giant bins with 2,300 dead grey-headed flying foxes that succumbed to heat stroke Saturday, said Lawrence Pope, the group’s president. Volunteers tried to save some of the bats by giving them fluids and keeping them cool, Pope said, but the creatures were simply too stressed, dehydrated and perished.

You can help get ready for fire season by following the guidelines set out by emergency services in your area and taking training to help in case of a crisis. In the USA Red Cross, the Human Society and Femma train and coordinate volunteers. Helping hands can be skilled as a veterinarian, emergency and fire rescuers or animal shelter trained and individuals willing to provide food of the proper kind to animals traumatized by the natural disaster.

Ways to help in a crisis

1. Attend a volunteer training program in your area and become a trained as a rescuerer or care giver.
Then you would be in a position to actively assist injured wildlife in the most direct way.
It is important for people who live near areas where fires have gone through to remember:
_ Keep cats indoors and dogs under control wherever possible
_ Leave bowls of water out for animals and birds escaping the fires
_ Keep a cardboard box and towel in the boot of their car in case you find an injured animal

_ If you rescue an animal that has been burnt, wrap it loosely, place it in a cardboard box, keep it in a dark, quiet and warm place
_ Call a local vet or rescue center for assistance as soon as possible
_ Make water available
_ Do not try to feed the animal
_ Do not leave food out in the national parks for the wildlife

To help the Australian Wildlife Rescue Effort

Please remember WIRES is a registered charity and relies upon the generosity of the public to continue
our work. Donations $2 and over are tax deductible.
Further information is available on request from WIRES Head Office
WIRES PO Box 260 Forestville NSW 2087
Tel: 02 8977 3333 Fax: 02 8977 3399


Excerpts from

Excerpts and Image courtesy of Fox story/0,2933,491050,00

Who is this new Oregon sea otter? Will it help rebuild its species?

A sea otter has come a visiting and  Terry Dillman of the News-Times Observers first spotted it playing in the waters of Depoe Bay on February 18 and 19, 2009 in front of the Oregon Parks and Recreation sea_otter_cropped1Department’s Whale Watching Center.

The last of Oregon’s native sea otters were killed in 1906, and marine scientists are trying to determine the residency of this otter. Once they  inhabited the entire west coast of North America, sea otters were nearly hunted to extinction for their thick furs. Oregon’s last known native sea otter in Newport in 1906 and sold the prized pelt for $900, the rush to obtain pelts led to wholesale destruction, not only of a species, but the ecosystem that depended on it. “The 1911 Fur Seal treaty signed by Russia, Japan, Britain, and the United States, and a 1913 federal law in the United States effectively ended the harvest of the sea otter,” noted Debbie Duffield from the Portland State University Marine Mammal Program. “But by that time, the species was extinct in Oregon and Washington, and clinging to survival in California and Alaska.”

Despite dedicated recovery efforts in specific areas, sea otters are have vanished from the Oregon coast and large sections of their original range. Today small, sparse populations still cling to existence in Alaska, Canada, California, and Washington State.

This confirmed sea otter sighting in the waters of Depoe Bay has excited marine science enthusiasts.Jim Estes, an internationally recognized sea otter expert, confirmed that the visitor is a sea otter – a rare sight in Oregon near-shore waters these days. “There have been sightings through the years, so it’s not unprecedented,” said Jim Rice, coordinator of the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. “But most of the so-called sea otter sightings have been river otters.

It’s likely that this is a wandering animal from Washington or California.

Morris Grover, director of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s Whale Watch Center located atop the Depoe Bay seawall, took clear photos of the unexpected, but welcome visitor from the U.S. Highway 101 bridge that straddles the entrance to Depoe Bay’s harbor. Estes, a former wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (retired) and currently an adjunct professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and ocean sciences at the University of California – Santa Cruz, reviewed the photos and confirmed its identity as a sea otter Wednesday. Morris and other observers watched the playful critter for five hours yesterday (Thursday) as it plied the waters in front of the whale watch center.

The Oregon Zoo in Portland and the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport house the only remaining examples of a species that once thrived here, and those are not the native Oregon species. Duffield said an attempt to reintroduce sea otters to Oregon launched in 1970 and 1971 “was not successful.”

The sea otters’ role as a keystone species in maintaining kelp forests. they presence is crutial to the structure and complexity of its ecological sea/kelp bed community. At one time, large kelp beds supported a diverse ecosystem along the Oregon coast and protected near-shore waters. Those forests provided shelter for fish and helped reduce coastal erosion by absorbing wave impacts. When hunters and trappers decimated the otter population, they took away the only natural predator of near-shore herbivores. A resulting boom in sea urchin populations destroyed the kelp and the balance of life in near-shore areas.

Restoring a balance to the kelp ecosystem

Marine biologist and Siletz tribal member David Hatch and the Elakha Alliance want to restore that ecosystem balance. Since 2000, the Elakha Alliance is preparing the way for the sea otter’s reintroduction in Oregon coastal water.  Through modern DNA matching they will find the proper subspecies for the sea otter reintroduction. Duffield and fellow PSU researchers have found by analyzing sea otter bones found in old Oregon coastal refuse heaps that the ancient Oregon sea otters  was more closely related to their southern cousins.

Setting a model for others to follow

1. The Alliance is building trust and respect between tribal and political support groups

2. Providing public education on the importance of elakha (sea otter) to the coastal ecosystem

3. Assessing the historical and current state of Oregon’s kelp forests.

4. Building an alliance between coastal tribes, agencies, organizations, and individuals committed to re-establishing the sea otter in Oregon’s coastal waters, the alliance represents a collaboration among the Oregon Zoo, Oregon Coast Aquarium, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the University of Oregon, Portland State University, Oregon State University, Oregon’s coastal tribal governments, and other groups and individuals.

One step at a time, using clues from the past and present to build the future.

The Siletz Tribe helped establish the alliance in January 2000 with a $5,000 donation from the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund. For the past eight years, its members and associates have worked to find a way to restore the elakha  the Native American name for sea otter


Excerpts courtesy of  Newport News-Times – Terry Dillman February 20, 2009.

Image courtesy of

Nasa global warming satellite studying carbon sinks sinks

A new global warming satellite mission to monitor carbon dioxide lands in ocean.orbiting-carbon-observatory-lg

NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellite failed to reach orbit after its 4:55 a.m. EST liftoff February 24, 2009 from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. Initial indications are that the structure that encapsulates the satellite as it travels through the atmosphere. on the Taurus XL launch vehicle failed to separate.

The Taurus XL rocket carrying the Orbiting Carbon Observatory a 986-pound global warming detection satellite (see NC Jan. 31, 2009 post below.) was supposed to be placed into a polar orbit some 400 miles high to track carbon dioxide emissions. The project was nine years in the making, and the mission was supposed to last two years.

It is a sad setback to finding out the carbon sinks around the world. Today scientists rely on 282 land-based stations and scattered instrumented aircraft flights to monitor carbon dioxide at low altitudes. This is a big setback for our understanding and control of emissions.

The observatory was NASA’s first satellite dedicated to monitoring carbon dioxide on a global scale. Measurements collected from the $280 million mission were expected to improve climate models and help researchers determine where the greenhouse gas originates and how much is being absorbed by forests and oceans.

Last month, Japan successfully launched the world’s first satellite to monitor global warming emissions.

Why was this satellite so important?

Carbon dioxide is the leading greenhouse gas and its buildup helps trap heat from the sun, causing potentially dangerous warming of the planet. Why is carbon dioxide so important to us?

Excerpts courtesy of Yahoo News

Refer to Nature’s Crusaders post nc2009/01/29/nasas-new-spac…r-carbon-sinks

Image courtesy of nasa/human-carbon-dioxide/orbiting-carbon-observatory

Excerpts courtesy of

The Mystery of the Missing Sinks January 23. 2009

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory And The Mystery Of The Missing Sinks – Staff Pasadena CA (JPL) January 28, 2009.

Spacemart OrbitingCarbonObservatoryAndTheMysteryOfTheMissingSinks

Find out how to reduce your carbon footprint

Rare now possible extinct buttonquail cooked

luzon_buttonquail1Thought to be extinct the rare Worcester  button quail was photographed live for the first time at a market by news men. The photo was taken in Nueva Vizcaya market in northern Luzon. Then they watched as the bird was sold as food at a poultry market, according to the Agence France-Press news agency.  Seems their pictures of the bird may be the only live photos of the bird ever taken.

Found only on the island of Luzon, Worcester’s buttonquail until this incident was known only from drawings made from old museum specimens collected decades ago.

These distinctive birds are characterized by their black heads with white spots, a brown or fawn colored body and yellow legs on males and the females are brown with white and black spots. The buttonquail is from a family of elusive birds that may survive undetected in other regions.

The Luzon Buttonquail (Turnix worcesteri) is a species of bird in the Turnicidae family. It is native to the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland. Locally known as “Pugo”, they are known to inhabit rice paddies and scrub lands near farm areas because of the availability of seeds and insects that they feed on regularly.

These birds are very secretive, choosing to make small path ways through the rice fields, and were hunted by children and young men by means of setting spring traps along their usual path way until their vanished.


Excerpts courtesy of National Geographic

“Extinct” Bird Seen –Then Eaten – Christine Dell’Amore   extinct-bird-photo

Image Luzon Buttonquail courtesy of Wikipedia and Arnel B. Telesforo LuzonButtonquail

Backward green comet in the winter skies

comet-lulin2panel_brimacombe1During January and February a unique event is happening above us all . An odd, greenish backward-flying comet is zipping by Earth ttraveling backwards toward the sun from the farthest edges of the solar system. The comet is called Lulin, and there’s a chance it can be seen with the naked eye far from city lights with a telescope, or at least binoculars, in the early AM skies.

Look for it just before dawn one-third of the way up the southern sky. It should be near Saturn and two bright stars, Spica and Regula.comet-lulin_february-2009_sydney-_10-pm_compressed1
On Monday at 10:43 p.m. EST, it will be 38 million miles from Earth, the closest it will ever get, according to Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near Earth Object program.
This comet is has a greenish tinge which may be hard to see. The color comes from a type of carbon and cyanogen, a poisonous gas.

Lulin was discovered by a Chinese teenager two years ago. It still has many of its original gases that are usually stripped away as comets near the sun. Unlike most comets viewable from Earth, this one hasn’t been this close to the sun before, Yeomans said.

While all the planets and most of the other objects in the solar system circle the sun counterclockwise, Lulin circles clockwise, said NASA astronomer Stephen Edberg. And thanks to an optical illusion, from Earth it appears as if the comet’s tail is in the front as the comet approaches Earth and the sun.

Lulin is essentially traveling backwards through the solar system


Excerpts courtesy of YahooNews

Backward green comet makes one-time only visit – SETH BORENSTEIN, AP, Washington. Tuesday Feb 17,2009.

Image 1. Comet Lulin courtesy of
Image 2. Positioning of Lulin in southern sky courtesy of Sydney

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