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.