Thursday, August 18, 2011

SeaWorld Footage Commentary

A couple of videos with some added commentary to them, the first one is in the same style as the "Harassing Dolphins" video I did a couple months ago and the second one is in a new style with me adding commentary during the video. Check 'em out!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fossil Collection Update

I posted a video update of my collection on youtube yesterday, check it out!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Museum of Life and Science Playlist

I went to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham on July 16th and took quite a lot of footage there. One of my favorite parts of the museum was the new dinosaur trail and being able to search for fossils, I found a dolphin tooth! Enjoy the clips in this playlist!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

How to pronounce Coelacanth

My first slideshow video. I'm not sure how many of these I'll do. I may do some more talking about science terms like this, and perhaps going over some different species like my failed 'creature profile' series that I wanted to do. I don't know, I think I'll just make slideshow videos for topics that I think warrants them, like this one idea I have explaining the relation of birds to dinosaurs.

Monday, July 4, 2011

NC Zoo Playlist

So I finally uploaded all of my videos of the North Carolina Zoo on youtube and now you can watch them all in this nifty playlist I compiled:

NC Zoo - 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Fossil Collection and Preview of Zoo Trip

I recorded a video showing my fossil collection the other day detailing some of the different fossils I have and explaining how I may expand upon it in the future.

I also went to the Zoo yesterday with my friend Heather. In this video we talk about the different things we did and how the trip was. I'll be uploading more videos this week, so go visit my youtube channel or follow this blog and wait until the end of this week to see a full article with all of the videos.

Friday, June 17, 2011

New Video: The Subjective and Objective Lenses

I explain how religion is subjective and science is objective. The lenses that people wear when they are young sometimes stick with them a long time, but once they change their prescription, they'll see the world much clearer.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Video: Dolphin intelligence is evidence for creation? Nah, I don't think so.

I talk about the evolution of cetaceans in this video, and a bit of a thought-provoking message at the end.

New Video: "Harassing" dolphins?

In this video, I talk about my difficulties with certain educators at SeaWorld, San Diego. The footage within the video was taken on my trip last year.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I'm on youtube again, this time, in person.

Yep, I made a new account on youtube and this time I'm going to have it be a little bit more consistent with my content.

Here's an introduction to my account:

And here's something that could pertain to this blog, a review of one of my paleontology books:

If you like what you see, please rate, comment and subscribe!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

An Update 6/1/11

Again, I apologize for being so inactive on this blog, I just have to get in the groove of posting about scientific things as well as the gaming ones I'm used to over at PK Gaming.

I have been quite busy lately though. I just started my summer semester, and I'm taking two biology courses, both with labs. The first is Microbiology, which has been a blast so far. The labs are hard work, and can sometimes be frustrating, but the payoff is nice. I work with the microscopes much more often in that class and it's giving me experience on how to prep slides and such. I was actually able to see living bacteria for the first time, so that was exciting. I may bring in some samples from the lake I live at to see if I can find any protozoa.

Perhaps I could try gathering some moss to find a Tardigrade, commonly called water bears or moss piglets. A water bear is a small animal that lives in moss just about everywhere and can survive very extreme conditions, as seen in the video below.

Sigh... I miss 'The Most Extreme' on Animal Planet. They rarely show it now, or at least it's never on when I watch it.

The other biology I'm taking is Environmental Biology, though I'm taking this course online. One of the labs we are assigned involves studying a biome. I'll be choosing the open ocean biome, which I already know quite a lot about, so it should be a fun project.

Another thing I'm planning besides schoolwork is making more videos on youtube, I'm starting with a fresh account, but hope to lure people over from my other account I once had. It will be a vlog of sorts... and I hope to teach people a bit by reviewing some of the informative books I have about marine biology, paleontology and whatnot.

One last thing before I close this update... I'm working on something much bigger than the youtube channel, and that's a book. I plan on continuing a story that I started back in high school. It was about my experiences with animals (mostly cetaceans) in California and elsewhere. I stopped writing the story around 2006, but I've had much more experiences since then, so it shouldn't be too hard to reminisce and write about them.

That's it for now! Hopefully I'll do well in the two classes I have this summer.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Carolina Reptile & Exotic Pet Expo

I had a pretty good weekend overall, and yesterday, I went to the Carolina Reptile & Exotic Pet Expo held in Raleigh by Gila Productions. I went with my friend and we had a great time. I've been to the expo many times before, but it's always fun to look around at the different animals, and be able to interact and touch some of them.

I want to share a few photos with you of my visit there yesterday:

Some tiny baby Chameleons, I think they're Veiled Chameleons, though I'm not sure.
A Rhino Iguana, apparently they are a bit more intelligent than most lizards.

A poison dart frog, very beautifully colored.
An Argentine Tegu, I'd really like to get one someday.
A Jackson's Chameleon, I can't be the only one who immediately thinks of The Magic School-bus, can I?
A blue and gold macaw with a mustached parakeet in the background, to my surprise, the parakeet seemed to have more cognitive skills in the bird show they had.
Well, that's the gist of what I saw, there were some other things like tarantulas, centipedes, scorpions, an alligator, a snapping turtle... a pretty big variety of animals. I was chosen as a volunteer in the audience for the reptile show they had. I handled the front end of a Burmese Python named 'Cleopatra.' She kept wanting to get out of my right hand to explore, so I let her, because she was moving backwards through my hand and I didn't want to damage her scales any. I did have a video that my friend took of that, but I've been having computer troubles lately, and I'm trying to learn some new programs using my new netbook. I had no idea what I did, but I was trying to compress the video and I somehow had it overwrite the video, and now it won't open or play.

Anyway, like I said, the expo was pretty great. I hope that I can buy something there eventually.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Creature Profile: Glaucus atlanticus

I feel like I've been ignoring this blog to much, so like with my other blog, I'm going to start doing weekly articles. This article series will be about organism profiles, though it will consist of mostly animals, I may delve into other kingdoms every so often.

The first creature I decided to profile is:

Glaucus atlanticus
Common Name: Sea Swallow, Blue Ocean Slug, Blue Dragon
Size: 2-3 mm (Juvenile) 20-30 mm (Adult)
Location: Supposedly Tropical Waters Worldwide
Habitat: Pelagic

This nudibranch has enticed me with its beautiful blue colors and it's large appendages relative to it's body size which makes it look some kind of tiny whale. It feeds on other pelagic organisms like the Porteguese Man-O-War, and converts the venom it ingests into it's own.

I don't have much else to say about it, other than it's just really cool-looking. Don't you think?

That's pretty much how the creature profiles will go. I'll tell you the scientific name, the common name, size, location and habitat, and then I'll say a few words about it, such as something about it's behavior or diet, or maybe just what I think of it's physical appearance.

I'll try keep up with this and post many more creatures in the following weeks. I hope you enjoy them!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Gray Skies and Sunny Days

A few days ago, it was pretty gloomy here, and I felt a bit drained. I felt like there wasn't much here, I'm still longing for the days when I move to a place closer to the ocean, and I'll be able to visit it anytime I want. There are a lot of days like that... but then there's comes something like today, where the sky was cloudless and a cool breeze was running through the warm air. North Carolina weather is usually very bipolar during this time of year, and I'm not saying that other places are better, but I would rather be leaning on the rails of a pier, looking out into the ocean, than sitting on my front porch. I guess I'm just longing for those moments I had back in California, whether it be at San Diego, visiting SeaWorld, or just having a walk on the beach in Oceanside. It's the only place that I've literally walked for miles, and didn't mind the time wasted.

I miss doing this most of all. Photo by RoyalDolphin.

Perhaps I'm just being a bit too cynical with my situation. I only have until the end of this year to finish up my community college education and then at the earliest, next spring, to move to Florida and start on my Bachelor's. It's not as bad as my heart thinks it is... I'm just very eager, and money is an issue.

That's a poor explanation for why I haven't been posting anything on this blog this month, but I suppose that I've been very busy over at PK Gaming, so let's use that as an excuse instead. I still have many ideas that I want to write about, but haven't fully developed them.

While you're waiting for more articles on this site (ha, like there's anyone who reads this blog), have a look over at these two fantastic blogs I came across:

The Middle Flipper

Diary of a Marine Mammal Trainer

They're for the aspiring dolphin trainer, so if you are one, definitely check them out, or if even if you just want to see what trainers write about!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Visiting the Aquariums of America: The Plan

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm going to detail my plan for the web series I hope to do. It's something I've been wanting to do ever since I graduated from high school, and the plans for it has changed quite a lot ever since I first conceived the idea.

At first, I wanted to visit every zoo, aquarium and natural history museum in the U.S.... in one summer. Yeah, that would never happen. Then I narrowed it down to just aquariums, but still, there's quite a lot of them to visit. So, instead, I divided aquariums up by their location. The first location of aquariums I want to visit will be in the Southeast. That will consist of around 23 facilities that will be visited in a span of around 30 or 31 days.

Friends have told me this route looks like a Manta Ray, how fitting!

Filming at these places won't have much narration, but just having the footage of the facilities so they can be used later when making the episodes. I suppose what I might do, is begin each episode introducing the aquarium in person at the beach or something, talking about the history of it, and then narrating over the footage we took over the trip. Yes, I said 'we' in that last sentence... because I won't be doing this alone, I will have two others traveling with me. Wouldn't you want to experience these places with someone else rather than by yourself?

I'll be talking about the aquariums I plan to visit in an article series each month leading up to the day I finally take this trip. The articles will consist of my expectations and what I'm excited to see there. Hopefully, this will remind me that everything I'm trying to earn now will be leading up to this trip. By 'everything I earn' I mean money obviously, but also my Associate's in Science that I should receive at the end of the year. This trip will be the start of my journey to become a Marine Biologist.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Window to the Sea

A little more than a week ago, I signed up for a free trial of Netflix, and I've been enjoying it so far. One program I found on the service was a PBS special about aquariums called 'Window to the Sea' featuring four facilities here in the states: The John G. Shedd Aquarium, the New England Aquarium, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the Waikiki Aquarium.

Here's a preview of the program:

If you have Netflix, I suggest watching this if you have any interest in aquariums.

I bring this up because it relates to a web series I want to create that I mentioned in my preview in January. I guess it also relates to the importance of aquariums on the list, but I suppose the two ideas can be fused into one.

Anyway, tomorrow I'll be detailing what the web series will consist of. I'm not completely sure when the series will start specifically, but I'll definitely be starting it sometime next year.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Georgia Aquarium's Dolphin Tales and SeaWorld's One Ocean

I've always been excited about seeing dolphins finally make their way to the Georgia Aquarium ever since they announced the expansion back in 2008. From what the video shows, it seems to be a pretty large exhibit. I have a bit of a gripe with the place though... they said that this wasn't going to be a 'SeaWorld' show... what? They mean like Believe or Blue Horizons? Because that's sorta what it looks like from the video... I thought they meant the show was going to be more educational and not have much of a 'story' behind it. Speaking of SeaWorld... they just announced a new show this month:

I suppose it's because of the backlash with the congressional hearing they had last year, questioning the educational value of their shows... but then... One Ocean doesn't seem that different to me... maybe it's just the fountains and special wetsuits that bother me, it makes it seem like a big production.

I don't know... for some reason, these shows really bother me... I want the Shamu Adventure show back, at least that didn't seem as cheesy and fake as Believe is. If marine parks and aquariums really want to have shows like this, I wouldn't make it a regular thing, I'd rather see it as something seasonal, like the summer shows at SeaWorld. I'll withhold my official opinion on both shows for now though, since I haven't actually seen them.

Oh yeah, one more thing... why are they charging separately/extra to see the dolphin show at the Georgia Aquarium? That probably bothers me the most... though other aquariums have done it as well, like the Brookfield Zoo and National Aquarium in Baltimore. I still think it's pretty ridiculous to charge separately.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Problem with The Cove

As many people know, The Cove is a documentary about the dolphin slaughter that takes place in Taiji, Japan. And as many people will tell you after seeing this film, with no previous knowledge about dolphins in captivity, they will tell you that aquariums in America and most of Europe are linked to this dolphin slaughter. There is a large problem with that though: It's not true. Don't get me wrong, what happens in Taiji and in other parts of Japan with cetaceans of all kinds is just horrific, but they are not linked to the western world of marine parks and aquariums... well, they haven't been in over 20 years that is. Admittedly, there were some rash decisions made by dolphinariums back in the 80's, as this video explains:

That video really reminds me of when I became interested in cetaceans due to SeaWorld, as Stewart Clark explains, it's that first visit or close-up encounter with a live animal that hooks you for life. But... last year, SeaWorld had some pretty bad publicity, with the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau due to an accident with Tilikum and there were the deaths of four orcas, Taima (and her stillborn), Sumar and Kalina. All of this bad publicity fed the activist Ric O'Barry and others with ammunition to try and criminalize marine parks and aquariums for keeping cetaceans. Captivity in itself is a very complicated issue, whether we're talking about a cetacean or some other animal, it really depends on the individual and where they came from, and I'll touch on that in a later, more in-depth article. As it stands, Ric O'Barry blindly assumes that marine parks and aquariums in the western world get their dolphins from the slaughter, but these two videos I have embedded below investigates the facts of the matter.

Videos originally posted here:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Close Encounters - In The Wild: Common Dolphins

Every time I have been dolphin-watching in California, I have always seen common dolphins, and they're such a joy to watch. In these two videos, I was going on a watch with my two friends in California, and for the first three quarters of the trip, we had not seen any dolphins, but we did see a gray whale in the harbor. Seeing the whale was quite nice, but the dolphins were something I was longing to see again. The whale/dolphin-watching excursion called Capt. Dave's Dolphin Safari is a favorite of mine since they always seem to manage finding cetaceans on every trip. The new boat they use has special design that allowed people to see the dolphins underwater, and I was very excited to see them in that way.

Friday, February 4, 2011

DRU - Dolphin Robotic Unit

That is the DRU (Dolphin Robotic Unit) and I mentioned in my preview earlier this week that I would talk about the implications it has for research. Unfortunately, I'm drawing a bit of a blank right now, but my the first question that popped into my head was, "How would wild dolphins react to something like this?" It's movements are incredibly accurate, though not quite as fast as a real dolphin. I think there needs to be more tests to see how dolphins react to it without a barrier... I mean... I know they must be afraid that the dolphins might try tearing it apart if they find it too threatening, but from what I've seen in the video, they seem more curious than afraid. Though, that's with captive dolphins, wild dolphins may have a completely different outcome.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Close Encounters - In Aquariums: Kasatka, Kalia, and Nakai

It was almost scary interacting with Kasatka for the first time, since she's the matriarch of the pod there. She seemed very interested in my photo book and seemed to like seeing pictures of her daughter, Kalia, who was right under her when I was showing it. At the point when she moves away, I was showing a picture of Corky, and I'm not sure, but I think she was uninterested in that. Her son, Nakai, then comes back (he was very interactive before right before the video was taken) to interact with my friends and I for a few moments, followed by Kasatka and Kalia.

In this video, I was able to interact with Kasatka a bit more, but I only caught the tail-end of the interaction. Then Kalia comes in for a few photos. Kasatka comes by one last time at the end of the video and says hi, (not really, but it looks like it).

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


This is a bit off-topic, but not really, since I did mention that I would talk about robotics in this blog. I just got so excited about this, that I had to mention it!

The Keepon robot, that a lot of robot fanatics were anxious to see when it would finally be able to purchase, is finally going to release in retail form! And for just $40! Though, it is just a toy version of it, but it will still hopefully have some of the functionality of the research model (priced at whopping $30,000).

To explain a bit about what the Keepon does exactly, here's is the page explaining it. (I know, I went the lazy route of linking you to another page.) But, for your entertainment, here's a music video featuring the Keepon robot:

Monday, January 31, 2011

A preview of what's to come

To hold you over, here's a picture of me with Buster, a short-beaked common dolphin.

I'm not sure how much traffic I will be getting to this blog, since I have it linked in many different places and I try to inform people when I make new post. Hopefully, they will be curious enough to see what this blog is about. I thought I would whip up a small preview of what I have planned for the next several posts and list the topics that will be discussed. So... here is a list to preview what's to come for this blog in the near future.

  • DRU - Dolphin Robotic Unit
    • A robotic dolphin and it's implications for research
  • Public Aquariums
    • The importance of public aquariums and how they impact people
  • Education of conservation through video games
    • A brief overview of a video game series called 'Endless Ocean' and how it can help people's awareness of marine conservation
  • Documentary mini-series about cetaceans
    • A dream documentary that would be a scale of something like 'Blue Planet' or 'Life' 
  • Web series about aquariums
    • A planned, mapped out series I hope to start in 2012 about the aquariums in America
  • Evolution of Cetaceans
    • A general overview of the history of cetacean evolution and my opinions on recent findings
  • Marine Life Art
    • This may be a weekly series of photos, drawings, and paintings that I find to share with you, some of which may be my own
  • More Closer Encounters
    • Like this article, there will be more, of both other people's experiences and my own.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Marine Mammal Day at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences

Yesterday was Marine Mammal Day at my local museum, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Seeing the presentations and talking to the biologists there had a strong impact on me, and I'm glad it did. As I mentioned when talking to them, I want to rekindle that fire I once had when I first saw cetaceans for the first time. That's the reason I created this blog. I was worried for a bit because I just couldn't find my inspiration to write again, no matter how many sources I had to choose from. Fortunately, after visiting the museum and talking with those wonderful people, my mind has been racing with many ideas.

I woke up early to get on the road so I wouldn't miss many of the presentations. I was able to see all but two of them. The first one I attended was by Susan Barco, a woman who works with marine mammal strandings, and she was doing a presentation about the new Right Whale skeleton the museum is going to have called Stumpy and how the whale's life tragically ended. After that, the theme of Right Whales continued with a presentation by Ann Pabst from UNCW. That presentation was more about the history of the species and the status of their conservation. It was after this presentation is where I decided to talk to the presenter one-on-one. Ann was very receptive to my questions and seemed excited that I was enthralled with cetaceans.

There were many more presentations after that, but I won't go much into detail for the sake of brevity. There was another presentation by Susan Barco about strandings in general and why they are important for research. There were also a couple of presentations about climate change that I wish I would have recorded for my skeptical aunt to see. Let's see... there was also the presentation about the local Bottlenose Dolphin population off the coast here in NC, I found that very interesting, as well as the presentation about tracking the movements of humpback whales in the Antarctic, which was presented by Pat Haplin of Duke University.

After all of that was done, the museum was about to close, and I was able to talk to Ann Pabst once again, along with William A. McLellan. I told them about this blog and about a few of my experiences with cetaceans and showed them my small photo book. Ann also showed me a Marine Mammal Encyclopedia that I had no idea about, so I will probably try getting it in the near future.

Overall, it was a pretty fun experience. I was hoping that one of my co-editors from PK Gaming would tag along, but unfortunately, I think he became sick since he hadn't contacted me the day before. It was still a great time going there alone though, that museum is always a great place to be.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Close Encounters - In The Wild: Baleen Whales

The video above is the type of stuff I dream about. The rush it must feel to touch a 60-100 ton animal. Unfortunately, I haven't had many experiences like that in the wild, and they are few and far between. The closest thing that I have done that I can relate to this video would be whale-watching in southern California off of Dana Point, where I was able to see a blue whale from a very short distance. The breath it took as I watched in amazement made my heart stop. It's incredible that when something that seems so simple as breathing can astound you when coming from a large animal like a blue whale. Though, the experience I had was nothing compared to what this lucky guy saw while kayaking:

The few experiences I have had were breathtaking, but there are many similar experiences that I have had with captive animals, which will be in the next topic of this 'Close Encounters' feature. To close out this short feature, here is a photograph I was able to take of the blue whale fluking while on that whale-watching excursion:

Click to see full size

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Steno bredanesis - An Introduction

I thought of using a video such as Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot, or the intro to Blue Planet as something to introduce this blog, or perhaps one of my speeches that I had recorded last summer during my public speaking class. No, instead, I'm just going to write a little bit about myself and what this blog will be about.

I suppose I should explain the name first. The title of this blog is named after the species, Steno bredanensis, or more commonly known as the rough-toothed dolphin. It is one of my favorite species of the Cetacea order. If you haven't guessed, this blog is going to be focused a lot on science and mostly marine biology. I will delve into other subjects such as paleontology, robotics and astronomy, but for the main topic, it will be marine biology with a focus on cetaceans. This is a personal blog, and the main purpose for it is to get me focused on my dream of becoming a marine biologist and dolphin trainer.

Since I'm going to be the only one posting here, I'll try starting out slow (unlike the other blog I created, PK Gaming, which has been growing rapidly). I'll only be posting something here once a week. (I may be posting more often than that now) I have quite a few subjects and links to articles that I would like to write about that will hopefully get me going.

So, again, a brief overview of what this blog is all about. It's a personal blog that is about science with a focus on marine biology, but not afraid to stray off the main topic. Hm... seems wordy. I don't want to push much formality into this blog, but I'll do my best to make it seem professional. (Though... I guess I don't have to if it's a personal blog, huh?)

Anyway, I digress... I just hope that any readers that might come across this blog will find it interesting.