The Amazing Citizens of the Sea

Transparent baby slipper lobster
All images courtesy of Dr. Nancy Knowlton and used with permission

Even though we know a lot about our Earth, we are often surprised by new discoveries every day. Especially when it comes to marine life, we must admit that it is much more complex than we think and God knows what hidden wonders are there beneath sea level. Among the many surprises, you may find sea-spiders the size of dinner plates and shrimp-like creatures more than a foot in length.
When the Census of Marine Life was launched, its goal was to answer basic questions about oceanic creatures and their life. As a scientific leader of Marine Life, Dr. Nancy Knowlton has devoted her life toward the life of sea creatures. She is the Sant Chair of Marine Science at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and proud founder of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.

"Citizens of the Sea" is a wonderful book written by Dr. Knowlton that draws our attention toward the many discoveries of the Census of Marine Life, in engaging detail. But why not speak with Dr. Knowlton and let us know about it in her own words? In a brief interview, Dr. Knowlton spoke with Environmental Graffiti about her new book and her passion for sea creatures.

EG: What made you to write this book?

Dr. Knowlton: "I was invited to write this book by the Census of Marine Life and jumped at the opportunity. It allowed me to share all the wonderful ocean stories I have been collecting in my head since I started studying the ocean more than 35 years ago."
EG: What were the surprises and challenges, you had while writing this book?

NK: "The biggest challenge was really the deadline, since it had to be finished in less than a year! The biggest surprise was how much fun I had doing it, even with the time pressure. And of course all the wonderful details we uncovered while researching each story were also surprising - for example the facts that some birds fly the equivalent of three round trips to the moon in their lifetimes and that a quart of seawater has more than 20,000 kinds of bacteria.

EG: The book is full of hidden wonders of the sea. Do you think there are still big discoveries to be made yet?

NK: "There is so much still to be discovered - the ocean covers over 70% of the surface of the earth and over 95% of its habitable real estate. We have only begun to scratch the surface, literally, since the deep sea is mostly unexplored. We have visited the moon more often than the deepest part of the ocean, and even in shallow water, the diversity is so high that we continue to make new discoveries every day."

EG: In closing, any 'green' message to our readers, about the health of the ocean and what we ordinary people could do about it?

NK: "The ocean is in trouble - between over-fishing, pollution, invasive species, and greenhouse gas emissions (which make the ocean warmer and more acidic), many species and ecosystems are threatened. But each of us can help by treading lightly on the planet. This means eating only sustainable seafood, using energy efficiently, and minimizing waste (much of which winds up in the ocean)."
For many decades, scientists from all over the world have been discovering many unknown species hidden in the deep sea and are still working hard toward the future of marine life.

"Citizens of the Sea: Wondrous Creatures from the Census of Marine Life" is a new National Geographic book, brilliantly captured by underwater photographers, and written with fun as an easygoing, detailed documentation. It not only brings readers face-to-face with the hidden denizens in the deep-sea, but also reveals a miraculous array of sea creatures. You will get to know more about your neighbors, once you will read the book.

My sincere thanks to Dr.Nancy Knowlton for her answers and sharing such an incredible book with us.


Unusual Snake With Foot Discovered

A snake with a single clawed foot has been discovered in China, according to reports.
Dean Qiongxiu, 66, said she discovered the reptile clinging to the wall of her bedroom with its talons in the middle of the night.
"I woke up and heard a strange scratching sound. I turned on the light and saw this monster working its way along the wall using his claw," said Mrs Duan of Suining, southwest China.
Mrs Duan said she was so scared she grabbed a shoe and beat the snake to death before preserving its body in a bottle of alcohol.
The snake – 16 inches long and the thickness of a little finger – is now being studied at the Life Sciences Department at China's West Normal University in Nanchang.

Snake expert Long Shuai said: "It is truly shocking but we won't know the cause until we've conducted an autopsy."

A more common mutation among snakes is the growth of a second head, which occurs in a similar way to the formation of Siamese twins in humans.
Such animals are often caught and preserved as lucky tokens but have very little chance of surviving in the wild anyway, especially as the heads have a tendency to attack each other.


Unusual and Funny Shoes with Faces

Gwen Murphy transforms old shoes into unique characters with scary faces.

The artist uses clay and acrylic paint to give each recycled shoe its own personality and facial expression.


Amazing Photography Profesor Has Camera Implanted in the Back of His Head

hotography professor Wafaa Bilal, at the New York University, has a let’s say original vision on what we generally refer to as art.

He intents to put together an exhibit of art called “The 3rd I” which will be featured at the Arab Museum of Modern Art in Mathaf. And for that particular reason he implanted a camera in the back of his head. Well,not literally,but he had a titanium plate implanted at a piercing shop. This allows him to attach a camera using magnets, camera which will take a photo every minute. The only time Bilal won’t be able to use it will be on campus at NYU, thus protecting the privacy of his students.

The opening of The Arab Museum of Modern Art will take place on Dec. 30, occasion with which they are hosting the “Told/Untold/Retold” exhibition, gathering the works of 23 key modern artist, including Wafaa Bilal.


Amazing Daredevil rides a cluster of balloons for 100 miles 18,000 feet above Mexico

American daredevil Jonathan Trappe took these stunning images as he flew a cluster of balloon 18,000 feet above Mexico.

The adventurer, who made history by floating over the English Channel dangling from balloons in May, did his latest stunt to celebrate the Mexican bicentennial.

He took off in the craft made up of the Mexican flag colours while at the Festival International Del Globo 2010 earlier this month.
American daredevil Jonathan Trappe prepares for take off in his homemade balloon contraption
He controlled his altitude by releasing air in his durable high performance balloons

Trappe, 37, controlled his altitude by releasing air in his durbable high performance balloons, reaching speeds of 18-50 mph.

Jonathan and his ten ground support crew travelled an astonishing 100 miles from Leon to Colorado in Mexico.

He captured these stunning images from a balloon-mounted camera as he made the journey.

Dressed in protective sunglasses and a pair of bluejeans, Trappe called the journey 'outstanding' and said he was 'wonderfully inspired' by his trip.
Uplifting experience: Daredevil Trappe's airborne adventure evoked scenes from Pixar's 2009 film Up (film still above)
Trappe was so high he took oxygen with him on the flight to deal with the altitude
He had ten ground support members to help him in his high-flying endeavor


14 Most Wonderful Jellyfish on Earth

Jellyfish have always drawn gasps at their beauty - and at times their venom which range from mild, to enough to kill a man. Found in every ocean and in some freshwater lakes and rivers, the jellyfish is one of the wonders of marine life. Join me as we look at 14 of the most beautiful!

1. Cannonball Jellyfish
The Cannonball jellyfish lives along the coast from the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. all the way down to Brazil, named obviously for its shape. One interesting little twist is how it sexually reproduces. It can reproduce asexually but when it does not, it shoots sperm from its mouth to be caught in the mouth of the receiving jellyfish.

2. Flower Hat Jellyfish
These curious creatures really do look like spring bonnets made to wear. They are a rare species found off the coast of Brazil, Argentina and Japan. Its tentacles coil up and stick to the rim when they aren't using them, giving rise to the bonnet look.

3. Portuguese Man o'War
A magnificent creature that is so commonly considered a jellyfish I include it here but is actually "a siphonophore, which differ from jellyfish in that they are not actually a single creature, but a colonial organism made up of many minute individuals called zooids" (according to Wikipedia). It has a gas bladder and swims on top of the waves letting the wind and current take it, while the tentacles can hang down 66 feet below.

4. Purple Striped Jellyfish
A species found around Monterey Bay, not a lot is known about their habits. Most individuals have four frilly oral arms and eight marginal arms. As they vary with age different numbers may be seen. It is a striking jelly with its bands of purple around its bell. A symbiotic crab often lives with it to feed on the parasitic amphipods that live on and damage jellies.

5. Diplulmaris Antarctica
This is a really strange but beautiful creature, which looks like a fried or poached egg and lives in the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Aegean seas. It is also one of the few jellies that can locomote on its own, not just relying on current.

6. Darth Vader or the Narcomedusae
This gorgeous creature is found in deep waters of Antarctica and has four orange frilled arms as well as white tentacles. The little white dots on the bell of the jellyfish are teeny amphipods that live off jellyfish, sometimes eating it but not in this case.

7. Black Sea Nettle
The black sea nettle is a giant jellyfish with a bell as big as 3 feet across and oral arms as long as 20 feet. They are found in Pacific Ocean waters and are carnivorous, eating larvae, plankton and even other jellyfish.

8. White Spotted Jellyfish
Also called the Australian Spotted Jellyfish, these are native to the Pacific Southwest waters. Fairly large they generally consume snail species but they have become a concern in some areas because of the huge amount of water they filter, digesting plankton that some food fish and other fish need.

9. Breede River Jellyfish
A species found around Monterey Bay, not a lot is known about their habits. Most individuals have four frilly oral arms and eight marginal arms. As they vary with age different numbers may be seen. It is a striking jelly with its bands of purple around its bell. A symbiotic crab often lives with it to feed on the parasitic amphipods that live on and damage jellies.

10. Mediterranean or Fried Egg Jellyfish
This is a really strange but beautiful creature, which looks like a fried or poached egg and lives in the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Aegean seas. It is also one of the few jellies that can locomote on its own, not just relying on current.

11. Darth Vader or the Narcomedusae
Found in the Arctic, this is a fairly new discovered species with 4 tentacles and 12 stomach pouches. It swims holding out its poisoned tentacles in front, better to ambush prey.

12. Blue Jellyfish
The blue jellyfish or Cyanea lamarckii is stunning in its color and has stinging tentacles. Found off the coast of Scotland, the North Sea and the Irish Sea, they average 15 cm across and look like bright blue pom poms.

13. Crossota sp
A gorgeous red medusa that was found in the arctic just off the sea floor during the Hidden Ocean, Arctic 2005 exploration with the NOAA.

14. Porpita Porpita

An astonishing beauty, this is one of the freshwater hydromedusas and appears in large numbers during summer in the Breede river in Africa. Very little is known about them as they disappears later in the year and have not been given a species name yet. Their mystical white beauty, with golden pedestals make them the winner in this list.

There are more famous jellies, and larger ones like the Lion's Mane, but out of all the ones I have seen, these 14 stood out for their beauty. Some ethereal such as the narcomedusa and diplomaris, some more tangible and brash. One thing's for certain - man's fascination with them won't disappear soon.


Awesome Paper Eyelashes

Series of unique and stylish eyelashes inspired by the art of paper cutting.

Designed by Ting yu Wang for Paperself, beautiful paper eyelashes are infused with symbolic meanings of love, success, and happiness.


10 Most Strange Ancient Objects In History Of The World

They’re evidence of extraterrestrial visitation, time travelers or lost civilizations like Atlantis – or perhaps they’re here to show us that some ancient peoples were far more advanced than we think. It’s hard not to get caught up in the mystery and intrigue of these puzzling and often bizarre ancient objects, most of which simply can’t be explained by modern science.

Antikythera Mechanism

The world’s oldest computer predates Bill Gates only by about 2,000 years. In fact, the absolutely mind-boggling Antikythera Mechanism – a corroded clocklike object found among the ruins of a sunken ship – may prove that advanced scientific technology existed far earlier than we ever thought possible. Scientists have since discovered that this mysterious Greek invention predicted solar eclipses, organized the calendar in four-year cycles, and may well be linked to renowned astrologer and engineer Archimedes. Though no other such mechanisms have ever been found, experts believe that many more made around the same time in 100 B.C.E. once existed.

Baghdad Battery

What need would ancient people have for batteries when electronics did not yet exist? Found outside Baghdad, Iraq in 1936, the Baghdad Battery is a small clay jar containing an iron rod suspended in a copper cylinder which is soldered shut and sealed with asphalt. Replicas that have been made since then can produce small mounts of electricity, proving the battery’s capabilities, but the question of what the battery was used for many never be answered.

The Baigong Pipes
“Alien toilet found in China”. This is just one of many absurd headlines seen on the internet concerning the undoubtedly bizarre Baigong Pipes, rusty red iron pipes that lead into a pyramid atop Mount Baigong from a nearby salt water lake. What’s so strange about the pipes? Well, for one thing, they’re in an area that is completely inhospitable to man – no civilization is ever known to have lived there. They’re uniform in size and seem to have been created in an intentional pattern. No clear explanation exists for the presence of these pipes, and scientists don’t seem to agree on whether they could be natural occurrences.

The Coso Artifact

When a spark plug was found encased inside a 500,000-year-old lump of hard rock, self-professed paranormal investigators decided there were three possibilities for how it got there: A, it was created by an extremely advanced ancient civilization (maybe Atlantis?), B, aliens visited the earth during the time of dinosaurs or C, time travelers from the future left clues in the distant past. All three explanations are highly unlikely to say the least, but scientists haven’t been able to come up with a better explanation – probably due to the fact that the Coso Artifact has mysteriously disappeared and is thus unavailable for analysis.

The Maine Penny
When a genuine Norse coin dating to the early 11th century was found among Native American ruins in Maine in 1957, it seemed to offer an intriguing piece of evidence that Vikings did indeed travel further south than Newfoundland long before the time of Christopher Columbus. And it could be so – but experts have their doubts. The fact that the ‘Maine Penny‘ was the only Norse artifact found at the site seems to indicate that it came to the site through native trade channels from Viking sources in Labrador and Newfoundland.

Phaistos Disc
There’s very little that we actually know for sure about the Phaistos Disc. It’s made of clay – check. It dates back to the second millenium B.C.E. – maybe. But its origin, meaning and purpose remain shrouded in mystery. Discovered in Crete, the disc is features i241 impressions of 45 distinct symbols, some of which are easily identifiable as people, tools, plants and animals. But because nothing else like it from the same time period has ever been found, archaelogists haven’t been able to provide a meaningful analysis of its content.

The Roman Dodecahedra

These fist-sized bronze Roman artifacts found in France, Switzerland and Germany pose a fascinating problem for archaeologists: they just don’t have a clear purpose, but many are covered in symbols, some undecipherable and others relating to the Zodiac. But for all the speculation on their use, including that they may have been surveying instruments, some experts believe the Roman dodecahedra were merely decorative candlesticks.

Shroud of Turin

A linen cloth bearing the barely-visible image of a man with apparent crucifixion wounds became the center of both devotion and controversy when it was first discovered in the Middle Ages. Could this be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ? Radio carbon dating puts the origin of the shroud between 1260 C.E. and 1390 C.E., consistent with the theory that it was a forgery. But the results have been disputed and since then, a wide range of modern tests have been unable to explain the markings on the cloth.

The Giant Stone Spheres of Costa Rica
They appear to be flawlessly round, ranging in size from just a few centimeters to over 6.6 feet in diameter, and are found all over the Diquis Delta and Isla de Cano in Costa Rica. Weighing up to 16 tons, it’s hard to imagine how humans could have moved these gigantic sculptures hewn from hard granodiorite – considering that the nearest quarry for that material is over 50 miles away from where the sculptures were found. Over three hundred of them are scattered across Costa Rica, but we’ll never know why – the people who made them back in 1,000 C.E. are long gone and had no written records.

Voynich Manuscript

Is the Voynich Manuscript evidence of a forgotten civilization, or merely an elaborate hoax? This handwritten book full of text that the world’s top cryptographers and codebreakers have never been able to decipher dates to the 15th century and was discovered in 1912 by book dealer Wilfrid M. Voynich. If it is a hoax, it’s incredibly convincing, given how fluidly the text was written and the fact that statistical analysis has revealed patterns similar to those found in natural languages.

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