In perhaps one of the best incidents of upcycling, members of a Japanese artist collective known as Kingyobu are taking old telephone booths and turning them into goldfish tanks. The group cleans and seals the booths, fills them with water, and adds bubblers to create rapid circulation, which allows the booths to hold fish. Just like an aquarium, maintanence is performed from the top of the former phone booth. So far three of these installations have been placed in the city of Osaka, Japan.
Photograph by Kingyobu collective
Sea cucumbers and sea urchins are able to change the elasticity of collagen within their bodies, and could hold the key to maintaining a youthful appearance, according to scientists at Queen Mary, University of London.
The researchers investigated the genes of marine creatures such as sea urchins and sea cucumbers, known as echinoderms. They found the genes for “messenger molecules” known as peptides, which are released by cells and tell other cells in their bodies what to do.
The study was published online in the journals PLOS One and General and Comparative Endocrinology.
Project leader Professor Maurice Elphick, from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, said: “Probably the most exciting discovery from our research was finding genes encoding peptides that cause rapid stiffening or softening of collagen in the body wall of sea cucumbers.
“Although sea urchins and sea cucumbers may not look much like us, we are actually quite closely related to them. As we get older, changes in collagen cause wrinkling of our skin, so if we can find out how peptides cause the body wall of a sea cucumber to quickly become stiff or soft then our research might lead to new ways to keeping skin looking young and healthy.”
The scientists analysed the DNA sequences of thousands of genes in the purple sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus and the edible sea cucumber Apostichopus japonicus and specifically searched for genes encoding peptide messenger molecules. Rapid advances in technology used to sequence genes made the research possible.
“When the human genome was sequenced over a decade ago it cost millions of pounds – now all of the genes in an animal can be sequenced for just a few thousand pounds,” Professor Elphick said.
“We also found that sea urchins have a peptide that is very similar to calcitonin, a hormone that regulates our bones to make sure that they remain strong,” Professor Elphick said.
“So it will be fascinating to find out if calcitonin-type peptides have a similar sort of role in spiny-skinned creatures like sea urchins.”
“These types of advances in basic science are fascinating in their own right but they are also important because they underpin the medical breakthroughs that lead to improvement in the quality of people’s lives.”
Source: Queen Mary, University of London
Photograph by John O’Malley
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Nat Geo WILD Executive Vice President and General Manager Geoff Daniels announced that the network is renewing its popular series Fish Tank Kings for a second season. Fish Tank Kings, produced by Sharp Entertainment, follows the Florida based aquarium specialists at Living Color as they use their unparalleled skills, creativity and teamwork to pull off the most extreme fish aquariums imaginable. The drama and pressure of the building process is nowhere near as serene as the final product. The Living Color team is in high demand, and their massive, cutting-edge underwater habitats have become the ultimate status symbol. The new season is expected to premiere in 2013.
“Last season, we saw the Fish Tank Kings create these elaborate aquariums—from upgrading a tank three to four times its size, making it the largest residential tank of its kind in southern Florida, to a unique aquarium built right behind the home plate backstop of a baseball field. They’re pushing the envelope and raising the bar in extreme aquarium building,” said Daniels. “What makes this series so great is that our viewers will get to see what it takes to create the coolest aquariums in the world.”
Fish Tank Kings will boast a cast of thousands of fish and hundreds of corals, displayed in an amazing array of custom-built tanks. We’ll be there for every incredible reveal. “We’re thrilled to be moving forward on a second season of Fish Tank Kings with our partners at Nat Geo Wild,” said Matt Sharp, executive producer, Sharp Entertainment. This season will deliver even more exotic fish, high drama and extreme builds, as our experts at Living Color Aquariums take on some of the most extreme fish tank builds ever attempted.”
Each episode follows the dedicated Living Color team as they work to create some of the most impressive fish tanks ever developed. Mat Roy is the president and is responsible for overseeing all projects and running operations at Living color. His favorite part of the process is seeing the look on clients’ faces as they view their aquarium for the first time. Francis Yupangco, lifelong fish geek, is the head marine biologist, overseeing the construction and marine life in the custom tanks. Ben Alia is the senior project manager, whose expertise allows the team to fabricate the most sophisticated of designs. Jose Blanco is production and safety manager, planning and creating a happy home for each fish. John Manning is life support system designer, responsible for creating intricate systems in small spaces that will ultimately keep the exotic creatures inside the tank healthy.
For more information, visit www.natgeowild.com or www.natgeowildpr.com. You can also check out the TFH Interview with the guys from Living Color here.
Posted September 28th, 2012. Add a comment
We all know that aquariums come in a multitude of shapes and sizes, but chances are you’ve never seen a fish home that looks quite like this. Jason Decaires Taylor, an underwater sculptor working with the Museo Subacuatico de Arte in Cancun, created a group of suburban-style homes for all sorts of aquatic animals. With help from marine biologists, Taylor designed the homes so that they make ideal habitats for various invertebrates and fish. For example, the roof, which is textured, allows for coral settlement, while the first floor is level and meant to house crustaceans.
If you’re visiting Cancun, be sure bring your scuba gear and visit this one-of-a-kind attraction.
Source: Architizer blog
Photograph by Jason Decaires Taylor
Posted September 27th, 2012. Add a comment
Scientists have found that lemon sharks have the ability to learn from each other’s behavior. When comparing the performance of inexperienced juvenile sharks working with both trained and untrained partners, it was found that those working with trained partners could complete tasks more quickly and successfully. The study is thought to be the first to demonstrate social learning in any cartilaginous fish.
Photo: Albert Kok
Posted September 10th, 2012. Add a comment
Scientists have discovered that Caribbean coral coverage has plummeted. In the 1970s, there was 50 to 60 percent coral cover present, but those numbers have now dropped to less than 10 percent. Much of the decline has to do with the massive die-off of sea urchins in the 1970s, possibly due to disease. These creatures keep vegetation in check; without them, algae and grass levels have increased, pushing corals aside. The overfishing of certain fish species that perform similar tasks, such as parrotfish, have also had an effect, in addition to global warming.
Source: National Geographic
Photo: Mazyar Jalayer
Posted September 10th, 2012. 1 comment
Oceanographers with the Nova Southeastern University have found that some deep-sea crabs have eyes sensitive to ultraviolet light, which help them locate and sort glowing plankton, their source of food. The crabs live in the deep-sea zone, a pitch-dark area at the bottom of the ocean, typically resting on glowing, toxic corals. It is believed that the bioluminescence helps the crabs differentiate between the two; the corals glow blue-green and green, while the plankton they eat glow blue. The crabs’ sensitivity to shorter ultraviolet wavelengths may give them a form of color vision that ensures they gather food rather than poison.
Source: Nova Southeastern University
Photo: Nova Southeastern University
Posted September 10th, 2012. Add a comment
According to the journal Zootaxa, a new species of fish was recently discovered in Vietnam. Like all members of the genus Phallostethus, the newly discovered Phallostethus cuulong, has its reproductive organs located on its head just below the mouth. In fact, the genus name Phallostethus means “penis chest,” referring to the unusual placement of their reproductive organs.
These are small fish, less than an inch long, that are mostly translucent with a bright white blotch over the top of their head. They were collected from shallow areas with slow-flowing water in canals and rivers in Vietnam. They prefer to stay in heavily vegetated areas.
You can read the full study about this newly discovered little fish in Zootaxa.
Photograph courtesy of Magnolia Press.
Posted August 29th, 2012. 1 comment
Sharp. Pointy. Scary. These are some of the terms that come to mind when visualizing a shark’s gaping jaw and intimidating teeth, but now you can add this to the list: clean! Recent research has found that the teeth of sharks are covered in fluoride, the exact same ingredient used in toothpaste for preventing cavities. Coupled with the fact that their teeth are regularly shed and renewed, sharks are always at their prime in regard to tearing and cutting prey.
Photo: Ian Waldie/Getty
Weedy sea dragon with its babies.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium animal care team and a nurturing weedy sea dragon dad have achieved a milestone reached by only four other aquariums in North America: the birth of a brood of sea dragon babies.
More than 80 of the inch-long fish – Australian relatives of the seahorse – began hatching on July 22. The father, who carried the eggs in a brood pouch under his tail, delivered the young in a sea dragon display that’s part of the aquarium’s special exhibition, “The Secret Lives of Seahorses.” The last eggs hatched on August 2.
The young are being raised behind the scenes for now, said Associate Curator of Fish and Invertebrates Jonelle Verdugo, who heads the seahorse husbandry team at the aquarium. If they survive and thrive, visitors may get to see them as part of the special exhibition. Others will be transferred to colleague institutions with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
“We are so excited about these births,” Verdugo said. “We’ve had success with a couple species of pipefish and half a dozen species of seahorses, but this is a first for our weedy sea dragons.”
Verdugo said her team drew on the experiences of colleagues at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta and Melbourne Aquarium in Australia, all of whom generously shared information about their own work breeding sea dragons.
Verdugo was also in touch with SeaWorld Orlando, whose sea dragon was carrying eggs and gave birth around the same time. Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga has also bred weedy sea dragons.
Verdugo said the papa weedy sea dragon remained on exhibit and was free to swim about as usual while he was giving birth. Each day, the young were moved behind the scenes as they hatched, and placed in smaller aquariums to receive closer attention from caregivers.
“Sea dragon pregnancies pose a lot of challenges for us,” she said. “We’ve gotten through several of them and now have living baby sea dragons. We know there are more challenges ahead, and we hope we’ll be able to raise all of the babies to adulthood.”
“Just having the pregnancy and births is a great indication that we’ve created an environment in which our sea dragons are thriving,” she added.
Like their more flamboyant cousins, the leafy sea dragons, weedy sea dragons are native to the southern and eastern coasts of Australia. While not classified as threatened in the wild, they are considered vulnerable due to over collecting for the home aquarium trade. Both species are protected under Australian law, and it is illegal to take or export them without a permit.
“If we and other aquariums continue to have success in breeding weedy sea dragons, that will go a long way toward eliminating the pressure to collect sea dragons from the wild,” Verdugo said.
Leafy and weedy sea dragons are closely related to seahorses and pipefish. With all of these fishes it’s the males who carry the young.
Sea dragons have long, slender bodies with leaflike projections that help them blend in with the seaweeds where they live. Weedy sea dragons can grow to be 18 inches long, and are usually reddish in color with yellow spots.
During breeding, males and females hover side by side, mirroring each other’s movements but with tails curved away from each other. They rise up in the water column, just like seahorses, to transfer the eggs onto a brood patch on the underside of the male’s tail.
Gestation typically lasts 6-8 weeks, and the babies hatch out over the course of a few days. In the wild, as the babies hatch, the male will change his swim pattern to distribute the young over a larger area.
The mission of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans.
Source: Monterey Bay Aquarium
Photograph by Monterey Bay Aquarium/Randy Wilder.
Posted August 7th, 2012. 3 comments