Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Int. Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) review Book II

Predators, Heidi de Maine, illustrated by Keli Hazelton, (privately published)

Heidi de Maine is a qualified Marine Biologist and this is the second book in the series Abby’s Aquarium Adventures, a local series of picture books about marine life. Abby works at an aquarium and she loves sharing her love of the sea with children, in this book she takes the kids to find out more about the “big eaters” in the aquarium.

With so much of public attention in SA being focused on the Great White Shark, children could be forgiven for thinking that they are the only predators in the sea round our coast ... readers here are introduced to lesser known, but none the less fascinating, creatures such as Honeycomb rays and Humphead Wrasse. The information is presented in a child friendly yet interesting way and it is a wonderful introduction to an important group of marine animals for children aged 6–10 years. Included at the end are a puzzle and crossword to reinforce the new words.

My quibble is with the cover which I don’t think children would find immediately appealing and I am also not too sure about the black pages. - Kathy Madlener

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sponge Bob's Cousin

Hi Sea Fans!

It's been a busy time again with expos and school talks but before I tell you about the events that I've been to, let me tell you a little more about an amazing creature that I got to see this last week at the Wits University Museum (it wasn't alive, but I've only ever seen them in books so it was amazing to see it!)....the GLASS SEA SPONGE!

Yes, the easy way to remember it is as Sponge Bob's cousin, but it's so much more impressive than Sponge Bob! 
Sponge Bob about to go skiing.  Photo: Alex
Glass Sea Sponges are almost entirely deep-water and not suitable for your aquarium at home. The most amazing part about these sponges is that they don't look like a sponge, they look more like a skeleton of an eel or something and they look very fragile.  They are actually very strong though!  Architects and scientists have found that the structure of these sponges is so strong that they have copied it when building bridges and buildings.  (There are already some buildings that have the same structure and those architects probably didn't realise at the time that there was a sea sponge built the same - have a look at the Swiss Re Tower in London and the Eiffel Tower in Paris).  They're even looking into making fibre optic cables stronger by using the sponge design!!!  Amazing how we can learn from nature!  (In case you're interested, or your parents want to know more, this is called BIOMIMICRY - basically: copying nature).

The most well known of the glass sea sponges is the Venus's flower basket. This sponge has become popular as a collectors' item, but was traditionally given as a wedding gift in some Asian cultures because there are little shrimp (a male and a female) which climb inside the sponge as larvae (babies), and then become trapped there as they grow. These are considered a good luck gift for a wedding couple as a symbol of the lifetime bond between the two partners.

Go to this site for more pics and info for parents:

Nature is amazing...what more can I say!

Have a great week Sea Fans and chat soon.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

From here to Timbuktu (almost)

Hi Sea Fans!

What exciting news I have for you: I'm becoming a world traveller!!  I wanted to show you some of the amazing people who work in the aquariums and research facilities around the world... so I wrote a letter.

I wrote to a few people, telling them what I wanted to do and asking if they would be interested in having me visit and the response was amazing!  The list of people who have invited me to come and see what they do seems to be growing week by week.  So far, I've been invited to: Alaska, Canada, the USA, Mexico, the UK, Turkey, Portugal, the Phillipines, Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand... and I see that there are more mails in my inbox so hold thumbs, I might be coming to your country!
World Map showing the countries that I'll be travelling to in red.
If you have a great aquarium or other type of marine/animal facility in your area, let me know (on this blog or at and I'll contact the people in charge and see about popping in there too.  The more countries the better!

I'll also be visiting professionals here in South Africa and along the way I'll give you clues to a special kind of treasure hunt that you can do with your mom and dad called a Geocache (Google the word "geocache" and prepare by asking Dad if he'll join in and let you use his GPS).  We're going to have a great time over the next year, keep your eyes peeled for developments!  (An easy way to stay in touch is to join my Facebook Page, connect to this blog so that you get updates instantly and/or mail me, I'd love to hear from you!)

So that's it from me for now, I'll check in with you again in a few days.
Have a great week and enjoy the sunshine those of you in the southern hemisphere (especially SA today!)
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