Friday, November 8, 2013

Evidence of my Travels so far

Hi Sea Fans!

I just wanted to share this with you because I thought it's very cool.  I'm collecting badges as I travel the world from the aquariums and other facilities that I visit.  I may have trouble getting through security checks at the airport with all this metal (he he he)!

Thanks to everyone who's hosted me so far, you've all been amazing and I hope we've inspired a few up and coming marine biologists.

Have a great week Sea Fans.
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Jellyfish Ice Cream

Hi Sea Fans!

I couldn't believe this when I read it so I thought I'd pass it on for you all to read:

Glow-in-the-dark ice cream inspired by jellyfish!  Every lick makes it glow even more.  $225 a scoop though!
Photo: Lick Me Delicious (the creators of this ice cream)
The proteins in jellyfish have been recreated and put into this icy snack.

Check out:!-The-jellyfish-ice-cream-that-glows

Have a great week Sea Fans!
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Monday, November 4, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Hi Sea Fans!

Well, this year was a fantastic year for dressing up for Halloween.  It seems that more and more people are getting into it...not for the bad stuff linked to it, but just for the fun of dressing up and for THE SWEETS!!! There's no such thing as too may sweets :) (Don't tell your mom I said that!)

Here are two aquarium exhibits that got into the mood:
Batfish Exhibit
Anybody need a new and interesting home for their worms?:)  Well done Pierre at Two Oceans Aquarium for this one.
 A seal that was loving the pumpkins:
Alaska Sea Life Centre
And some of my friends (aquarists) decided to go all out at work!:
This is one scary penguin feeder!
Artistic otter being instructed by a werewolf and witch.
Eek!  Careful if you're in THAT tunnel after dark! :)
Hope you all had a good one.

Attention all aquarists: Please start sending me your Christmas Aquarium pics so that I can start putting them on the blog for everyone to see what you're up to this year.

All readers: Why not send in your Christmas pics of you visiting your favourite local aquarium and I'll also post the pics here.

Have a great week Sea Fans.
Cheers for now!
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Friday, October 18, 2013

Mote Marine Lab and Aquarium

Hi Sea Fans!

Mote Marine Lab is in Sarasota, Florida in the US (yes, the American leg of my trip continues! : )).
Mote was founded back in 1955 by a woman named Eugenie Clark...lots of people know her as the "Shark Lady".  You can go to to find out more about Dr Clark, but something I thought you'd be interested in is that she has done 71 deep submersible dives and the last time I heard, she was STILL DIVING...amazing for her age!!!
Anyway, back to Mote...the lab is named after a man, William R. Mote, who was a close friend of the lab and a keen fisherman.
Lots of research gets done at the aquarium and out in the field so the people who work there are very busy.  Dolphins, manatees, sharks and coral reefs are just some of the things they study.  I got to help out at the aquarium where they are breeding seahorses at the moment...  I got to feed them. :)
I also got to help the docents (the people you find walking around the aquarium who chat to you about the animals or those that are stationed somewhere like a touch tank to tell you more and answer your questions) on one of the days I was there.

My best experiences though was helping with the shark training and observing a manatee training session...awesome!
Thanks to Kasey and everyone at Mote for showing me what you do in a day, I had a great time.  Sea Fans, if you'd like to check them out, go to

That's it for now.
Chat soon.
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Whales in Oz

Hi Sea Fans!

As promised, here's the Australian bit of my adventure with Mike:


Australia was awesome! Thanks to Mike and the girls from St. Mary's Anglican Girls School in Perth, Western you guys!
Whale watching from the Reef Prince (the boat we used in Busselton, Western Australia).
The St. Mary's girls made a life-sized humpback whale (parents and teachers can see more info as to how you can do this at the end of this blog)
which we donated to the Lady of the Cape Catholic School.

And...excitement for me...we met a non-whale!

So another interesting marine career....teaching about the sea and the animals that live in it can be just as amazing as working with the animals themselves. Thanks again to Mike and all the girls!

Hi ho hi ho it's off a-travelling I go...
Chat soon!
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For Parents and Teachers:

Lucy is an inflatable 55-foot long whale that you can construct.

Students and teachers can walk inside. Your class or group can build a 55-foot long, 8-foot diameter model of a whale that can be carried in a duffel bag by one person. The directions and a list of materials needed to build this unique educational resource are in the booklet, "How to Build an Inflatable (55 ft.) Whale." The booklet also includes suggested classroom activities and data. Estimated cost for materials is about $60.00.

The cost for this instruction booklet is $10.00 and can be purchased by sending your payment with your order. (All booklets are still available.)

For information see links:
This has a great impact on children and adults. The model I use has has thousands of students through it. It lasts for years and needs only a household three speed box fan for inflation.

Monday, October 7, 2013

USA to Oz

Hi Sea Fans!

Yes, I've been shocking the last month with writing, but I've got some good stuff to show you! :)

I got to work with Michael Williamson and some of his students during a special project. Fifteen students from Perth, Western Australia were working in the America learning about marine mammals and research. We spent two weeks in the Gulf of Maine and then one week at Friday Harbor, Washington observing (watching) and learning about Orca. At the end of August we travelled Down Under (to Australia) to research the Southern Right Whales, humpbacks, and any other species we could find.

Michael is the Director of WhaleNet ( and Vice President of the Mingan Island Cetacean Study ( He also works with a school in Australia developing a research database for Southern Right whales, humpbacks, Orca, and Tursiops (dolphins), as well as the Giant Mantas. He founded WhaleNet in 1993 to excite students about math, science, the environment and technology. And how impressive is this...he's an Associate Professor of Science at Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts, where he has taught marine biology, oceanography, physical science, ecology, and mathematics courses since 1988. So you have to know that this man knows his stuff!! How exciting that I got to see this man in action!


We spent a week in Friday Harbor, Washington observing (lookng at) the resident (those that stay there) and transient (those that move through the area) Orca populations. We spent a day at the Whale Museum checking out a gray whale skeleton,

a day sea kayaking observing seals and bald eagles,
Harbour Seals (Photo: Ken Thomas)
Bald Eagle (Photo: Tewy)
and two days aboard vessels (boats) observing Ocra around San Juan Island.

The two weeks before this we watched humpback, fin and minke whales on Stellwagen Bank in Massachusetts Bay. 

The 15 students from St. Mary's Anglican Girls School in Perth, Western Australia and I had soooooooooooo much fun!
I got to help prepare a satellite tag (that's a Pilot Whale skull behind me).
And the Australian bit I'll tell you about another time.

Chat soon.
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Winter in Antarctica

Hi Sea Fans!

I got to do Winter in the Antarctic too...thanks to Sabrina!  Becs left for warmer weather in the UK and I stayed behind to see what goes on when it's REALLY cold!!

When it's cold and's REALLY COLD AND WINDY!
Every person who stays over winter gets to go camping for a week away from base.  These are the only holidays that the staff get to go on.  I went with Sabrina and Malcy and we ran into some nasty weather.  We didn't mind though, we snuggled up in the warm tent and played games and read books...a good way to relax! 
I'm getting ahead of myself though, I still have some photos from the end of summer:
CTD being winched up. (In other words, a mini crane-type thing is used to let the CTD down and pull t back up again).
I went out with Sabrina to do a CTD cast.  This is when a special piece of equipment with sensors, attached to a line, is dropped down to 500m below the water.  It measures salinity (how salty the water is), temperature and depth.   A fluorometer (tells how much phytoplankton is in the water) and PAR sensor (this measure the amount of sunlight available for the phytoplankton) are also attached.

Typical CTD results for Summer are:
* high surface temperature
* fluorescence (due to large numbers of phytoplankton - the plant plankton)
* high levels of sunlight
* low salinity (melting snow, ice and sea ice means lots of freshwater to dilute the salt)

Typical CTD results for Winter are:
* low surface temperature (sea water freezes at a lower temperature than fresh water because of the salt in it)
* low fluorescence (in winter there is not enough sunlight for the phytoplankton to grow)
* low levels of sunlight (sometimes there is NO SUNLIGHT!)
* high salinity

On our trips out we also got to explore the ice from the boat.

There are lots of different kinds of ice:

  • the really thick ice where even humans can walk is called FAST ICE,
    Photo: Barbara Wienecke
  • the ice I'm sitting on in the photo above the fast ice is called BRASH ICE.  There are lots of bits of ice that float on top of teh water and get pushed around by the wind and ocean currents.
  • Check out for more...
I must run Sea Fans, more to come soon so stay tuned! : )
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Monday, August 26, 2013

Internet-inspired aquarium crafts

Hi Sea Fans!

I was surfing the web and realised that I haven't put any crafts on my blog for a while so I got all inspired by some of the stuff and thought I should share them with you:

Make your own robot from 
 Instead of the robot, why not make a fish?!  Lips, eyes, fins, scales..the list is endless, just make sure they have a magnet on the back and then they'll stick to the can.  Your own aquarium version of Mr Potato Head.
Glue painting from
 All you have to do is pour the salt onto the glue drawing and then drop food colouring over.  Rainbow-coloured jellyfish could work really nicely!
Stamps from
 These designs are drawn by you with a ballpoint pen onto foam and then the foam is stuck onto a piece of wood to make it into a stamp.  Fish, sharks, jellyfish, dolphins...anything you can draw!  If you're not much of an artist, photocopy a picture and place it face down onto the foam.  Use a cotton bud and spread nail polish remover over the entire back of the picture and when you lift the paper you'll see the design printed on the foam.  All you need to do then is to go over the lines with your ball point pen.
Twig heart from
 These are twigs/branches that were painted and then wired together in the shape of a heart.  The same concept could be used for a fish or maybe a jellyfish or octopus body and then you could make some cool dangly legs out of vines or another creeper's branches.  Fishy au-naturale!
Alphabet collection from
 Random items beginning with the letter in the box are collected and put inside that letter box here but why not make it a little more difficult and make it sea-themed?!  The items can be soft toys, magazine pictures, drawings or crafts.  eg. A - anemone (amigurumi is a fun way to learn how to crochet...look it up and you'll be hoooked.  If not, then get Mom or Gran to help), M - Mussel (Mom may have made a seafood dish for supper and you could keep the shell), S - Sand (beach sand is easy enough to collect)...
Splat monsters from
 These splats would look so cool as porcupine puffer fish.  Drop some watery paint onto the page and then use a straw to blow it into a splat...then decorate with wiggly eyes and add features like fins.  Glitter would add the wet look.
Personal puzzle from
Here, a booklet is made with a few different faces, bodies and legs and those are put together as see above.  Then you can make yourself into weird and wonderful creatures.  The same can be done for marine animals.  Use magazine cut-outs, pictures from the internet or get artistic and draw or paint them yourself (eg. penguin, seal, shark, fish, eel, seahorse) and then cut each picture into a head, body and tail/back end.  It's easier if you draw the body and tail parts because then you can make sure that the sections are the same size with pre-cut pieces of paper like the booklet above.  If you use internet or magazine pictures then you can play with this like a puzzle and won't make a booklet.  Either way, you can have some fun making original animals!  You can go one step further and decide on their habitat (where they live) and what climate they live in according to their bodies.  (Think ADAPTATIONS).

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Hi Sea Fans!

Antarctica is so cold and now looking at some of my photos I feel that chill all over again (I checked and Rothera is -9.3 degrees celcius today!!)...even though I'm sitting next to a fire!

Wow, it seems like forever since I was sitting in that plane going so far south for the first time.
Quite different to an SAA/BA/Emirates/KLM...etc flight!
Rothera station is the BAS's (British Antarctic Survey) largest Antarctic science facility. Researchers study the survival and adaptation (changing to be better suited to the environment) of plants and animals in the sea and on land.  Antarctica is a huge, frozen wilderness that pushes the men and women who work there to their limits (I was obviously unaware of how harsh and cold it was going to be...a bit like when I went up to Alaska!), but understanding this environment is so important for understanding the way our world works.  

My first Antarctic animals - penguins!  Please note the shorts and t-shirt...MAD!!
After a while, some of the girls thought I was a bit mad to just be wearing shorts and T-shirt (rightly so!), so I got a handmade pair of thermal overalls like the rest of the crew - thanks Sabrina! Anyway, back to why I was there...

The long-term monitoring programme involves regular measurement of sea temperature, water chlorophyll contents (the green stuff), major nutrients, ice cover and thickness, sedimentation (materials being deposited on the seabed), and the activities of a number of benthic invertebrates (animals that don't have a backbone that live on the bottom).  I got to meet the base's marine biologist and the marine assistant.
Bel, the marine biologist on base.
Part of the marine assistant's job is to collect samples for the long term monitoring program BAS has been running for 15 years, throughout winter and summer. 
Helping Sabrina, the marine assistant, take water samples.
 This is how Sabrina explains what she does and why: 
"The ocean is a big ecosystem, so everything is connected. In the summer, when the sun shines a lot, all the little plankton (which are little plants called phytoplankton and little animals in the water column called zooplankton) grows and reproduces. We take weekly water samples and filter the water through 4 different mesh sizes (biggest first and than smaller and smaller). 
That means that we know how much of each size of phytoplankton is in the water. Bigger things feed on the plankton which are also eaten by even bigger animals like humpback whales or seals, which we frequently see in the bay during the summer. 
In the winter, most of the light goes away and we even have a couple of weeks without the sun at all. This means that the phytoplankton doesn't have any light for photosynthesis (when sunlight is used to make food - the same thing plants and trees do on land). So they are just waiting in the water column for the next summer. 

We do not have sea ice in the bay every year in the winter so sometimes, when there is no ice, the wind mixes the water up a lot which means that all the plankton is stirred up. 
I was there for the first bit of Antarctic ice!
We have found that when the water was not protected by sea ice and all the plankton is stirred up that the next summer the phytoplankton is not ready to grow and reproduce which again means that there is not as much food for all the bigger animals. This can potentially get worse with global warming (when everything gets warmer and there is less protection for the plankton over the winter, they will not be in the right spot to grow and reproduce).

We also look at some nutrient levels in the water (ammonia). All the other water samples are put into bottles and sent back to the UK where different places analyse them. They look at things like:
 * isotopes (so that they can find out whether the meltwater comes from glaciers or snowfall), 
 * carbon dioxide  levels in the water (the ocean and especially the ocean around Antarctica is       a big carbon sink, which means that it takes the carbon dioxide produced by things like cars       and factories out of the air), 
 * other nutrients, HPLC, viruses, Barium and dissolved organic carbon".  
I didn't feel so good on the boat all the time...sea sickness is BAD!

Sitting up front made me feel a lot better, I even got a chance to drive the boat!

The front of the boat was where I stayed every boat trip after that experience of sea sickness!
I think that's it from me for much to tell you still but I'll leave it for another day.  Thanks again to Becs, Sabrina and Bel for showing me what you do!

Have a great week Sea Fans.
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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Antarctic Antics

Hi Sea Fans!

Yes, I got the chance of a lifetime, I got to go to Antarctica!  Thanks to Becs and Sabrina for hosting me...what an adventure!  Becs works for the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge as their Aquarium Facilities Manager and her job is to look after all the research animals that are brought back from Antarctica. To get an idea as to what goes on at the base in Antarctica, Becs and I went down to see what the researchers do down there and what the base is like.

To get to the remote parts of Antarctica and collect important scientific data, you can't just book a flight, pack some winter woolies and head south.  Antarctica is an extreme and hostile place and you need to prepare carefully, have specialist training and make sure you've got all the right gear packed.
Go to this site to see what goes into organising for a trip down south:

We got all our ducks in a row and off we went!  Here are the first few photos from my trip:

View of the base from the airoplane cockpit/
To get an idea of what it feels like to be in Antarctica, go to this link to hear some Antarctic sounds:

Plane leaving the base.
Antarctic landscape.
And if you think it looks cold're right!!  Check out how many layers the researchers have to wear when they go there by going to this link:

Becs in a boat suit.
As you can see, it's not just a T-shirt and shorts kind of place! : )  This was when Becs and I went in the rubber duck with the researchers...brrrrrrrr!

Another way they get around in Antarctica...not a car, but a snow mobile.
Once we'd settled in, we were given a run down as to what goes on at the base and then we were invited to go crevassing.  Crevassing you say?  Well, if you've never heard of it, it's abseiling (lowering yourself down on a rope) down a huge crack which means that you're surrounded by ice...brrrrrrrr again!

Becs in the crevasse about to go down on the rope.

Becs abseiling down.

Me on the way down.
I must say, I got quite a bit of exercise visiting Antarctica. 

Hiking over ice and abseiling means you need a lot of gear.
Not only did I get to see beautiful landscapes,
but I also got to see some of the wildlife there.
Adelie penguin.
 These guys are just too cute, but there are also Chinstrap, Emperor, Gentoo, King and Macaroni penguins here.  What a huge variety!  There are also a range of other birds, from the almighty albatross to the petrels, prions, fulmars and shearwaters...but I'll tell you more about them another time.

Weddell, Southern Elephant, Ross, Crabeater,
Crabeater seal.
 Antarctic fur,
Fur seal.
and Leopard seals can all be found down south.  Of the 6 Antarctic species, 4 are ice habitat specialists, breeding on the sea ice (Beyond the ice shelves is the sea. When the sea freezes it forms a salty type of ice, sea ice.) in spring.  Leopard and Ross seals tend to be solitary (they like to be alone and not in groups), whereas the Weddell and Crabeater seals form breeding groups.  Antarctic fur seals and Elephant seals both breed in dense colonies on beaches where dominant males (bulls) have harems (groups) of females (cows) in territories.  Whilst they are very busy defending their harems, bulls won't forage at sea, but rather rely on the blubber reserves from the previous winter.  Interesting stuff don't you think?

Well, I think that's me for today, I'm getting writer's cramp from typing so much (I was e-mailing my family back home before this and had to catch up on some work stuff too).

Chat soon Sea Fans!
Have a great week...and weekend.
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