After a concerted effort by commercial fishermen to raise the dogfish quota, it was fished out in three months. The closure comes before the time of peak dogfish abundance in Virginia and North Carolina waters, and well short of the end of the season (the dogfish fishery runs from April-May). The closure of this fishery is noteworthy for a couple reasons.
If this blog were a spiny dogfish, it would be somewhere in the 40 cm range in length, and would be swimming around in deep water along the continental shelf break. Its diet would be made up mostly of krill and other deepwater invertebrates, but it may begin to dabble in eating smaller fish. If this dogfish were female, it would still be looking at another 10 years before reaching reproductive maturity.
Thanks to all the readers, commenters, and Twitter followers who have helped motivate me to keep this blog going. You all keep me from getting distracted and wandering off. Here’s to another two years.
Recently Jason Goldman at the great blog The Thoughtful Animal (if you have any interest in animal behavior at all, you should be following it) put up a post titled “Sharks With Friends.” In that post, he summarizes a recent paper showing that blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus) from schools with the same individuals. Social behavior in sharks is a big interest of mine because my Masters thesis study animal, the mighty spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) is among the most social sharks out there, forming huge schools as they migrate along the coast. However, this recent paper is not the first to study social behavior in sharks, though it does have a really cool result and methodology that I’ll got into later. Though dolphins and octopuses get a lot of credit for being the smartest creatures in the sea, sharks may be just as complex in their social behavior, meaning they might be capable of hatching world domination schemes just as diabolical as those of the cetaceans and cephalopods. Sharks also have the advantage of being able to eat dolphins and octopuses. I for one welcome our finned overlords.
I’ve officially survived my first Science Online, and returned mostly intact. This gathering of scientists, journalists, bloggers, and others came together in Raleigh from Wednesday to Saturday, and created one of the most unique conference experiences I’ve had so far. Never have I seen such a diverse group of people have so much in common. Never have I felt that sitting on Twitter while someone is giving a presentation was absolutely vital. Never have I heard so many references to duck genitalia.
One of the things I try to do here is provide good coverage of the conferences I attend. I’m going to try to do justice to Science Online, but there was quite a bit going on, both online and in the physical world. The #scio12 hashtag is still pumping out tweets, so be sure to check there for the inevitable flood of recap posts with different perspectives from mine. Some names may be changed to protect the not-so-innocent. On with the recap.
Later this week I’ll be journeying to Raleigh, North Carolina for Science Online 2012, a celebration of all things science on the internet. Rather than the traditional “see a bunch of talks” format that I’m used to at conferences, Science Online is composed of a series of discussion sessions, with the presenters as moderators rather than, well, presenters. The full agenda can be seen here, and includes such diverse topics as cybersecurity, writing for popular magazines, dealing with journalists, blogging for conservation, the state of women in science blogging, figuring out your audience, and more. Audience members are encouraged to join the discussion in each session, and I’m looking forward to seeing that in action.
The extracurricular activities are pretty slick too. The lab and museum tours include the Duke Lemur Center, several of the Triangle-area labs and museums, and even a visit to a tattoo parlor well-known for producing awesome science-themed designs. Also, there will be an open mic, which I will be playing at (I’m thinking a short set of ocean-themed punk/alternative songs, since traditional sea shanties will be well-covered already. Any song suggestions welcome).
As with previous conferences, I will do what I can supplying regular updates here and on the Twitter feed, so stay tuned (Science Online is, as you might guess, pretty encouraging of live-blogging the sessions). Look for the #scio12 hashtag. For those who are n00bz like me, here’s a helpful guide. Looking forward to meeting some of the people I’ve been reading.
Usually I leave short commentary and links to interesting news on Twitter, but three recent stories piqued my interest and warrant more discussion here. And no, none of them are about whale trading, which has been covered far better by others in the blue blogosphere. Instead, these stories involve sea creatures that actually breathe water and the people who try to make a living off of them.
Welcome to the first post in 2012. It’s probably good to start the new year off with a doozy, and in keeping with the theme of this blog, it involves that scrappy little shark everyone loves to hate. Spiny dogfish are possibly the most well-studied shark species, by virtue of being relatively common and easy to handle, but there is always room to learn something new or revisit something we thought we knew (especially with regards to dogfish ecology). One of the best-known features of spiny dogfish is its longevity and slow growth, but a new paper by researchers from the University of New Hampshire and the University of New England shows that the specifics of spiny dogfish age and growth are not written in stone.
Just wanted to take this moment to wish a happy new year to all readers, fellow ocean bloggers, and people stumbling across this on the internet. Make sure you have a safe place to land if you overindulge, and may next year make this year pale in comparison.