Monday, February 29, 2016

That was a Leatherback sea turtle esophagus?

Hey everyone!

Remember when we visited CCBER and we saw the sharp, pointy piece of whatever in that jar in the back? Yeah? To jog your memory, it looked a little like this:

Well this, my friends, is the inside of the leatherback sea turtle's throat! And those terrifying spikes are its "teeth". Check it out!

These jagged spikes, which line the throat all the way to down the stomach, are called stalactites. Stalactites are a special adaptation unique to the the leatherback because they are crucial to the quick digestion of the leatherback's main prey, jellyfish. Because jellyfish are not very nutritious, this turtle must eat nearly it's entire bodyweight in jellyfish in order to obtain its daily nutrients. That's a whole lot of jellyfish when you consider how enormous these guys can get, up to 1,500lbs!
Leatherbacks are the largest living sea turtle, but sadly they, along with the six other species of sea turtles, are endangered

To learn more about these amazing creatures and how you can help protect them, visit:


Friday, February 26, 2016

Great Marine Pocket Field Guides

Hi Guys,

Have you ever gone to a beach or gone diving, seen a really cool fish, invertebrate, or algae species, and wanted to learn more about them? The lab I work in, The Santa Barbara Coastal Long Term Ecological Research Group, helped developed a free App that works as a pocket field guide for over 150 species of algae, fish, and other little critters that can be found in our local marine ecosystems, mainly our beautiful kelp forests. Right now it's only available for iphones, but they're working on ipad and android versions. It can be found under "California kelp forest".

There is also a tide pool version that is available for all phones called "California tide pools".
I thought these could be a nice tool to have for anyone that enjoys diving or exploring tide pools, so that you can learn more about the cool little critters you find.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Algae Saves the WORLD

As was briefly mentioned in class, algae could be the superhero that helps with our itty bitty problem...GLOBAL WARMING.  I found two articles that talk a little bit about how it would work and whats been previously done. Thought it'd be a cool thing to share!
Green Algae Process Could Stop Global Warming
Green Algae Could Save The World


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

There's Too Much Math in Plants

Hi guys!

We were talking in class about the arrangement of leaves, and that called me back to this really cool video I saw in high school. I mostly was interested in it because it helped me doodle some really cool pinecones, but it basically talks about the relationships in the angles between leaves and other things in nature like pinecones. It's supposed to be the ideal angle in between leaves so that no one leaf will ever overlap the other, thus preventing leaves on the same plant from blocking one another out.

I would definitely suggest watching more videos in the doodling in math series - this video alone has two 'sequels' which expand more on the patterns in plants. It just figures  we wouldn't be free of math, even in EEMB. But this stuff is really cool!

-Michelle G

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Hey CCS Bio!

We went to CCBER last week and saw some pretty awesome collections. Near the end, Claudia mentioned something about plant that we also learned in my parasitology class so I thought I'd share an article with some cool pictures and facts. Galls are created by plants and caused by a parasite. They are abnormal growths of plant tissue, comparable to a benign tumor in humans. Theres research being done that shows in some plant, galls can even be beneficial! Galls can also be formed by mammals and humans...but those pictures are a lot more gross. Anyways, check out some cool galls and the parasites that cause them!
Galls and Parasites!

P.S. Heres the link to the research showing that galls are beneficial, if you're interested!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

If you're looking for a research project to work on this summer and would be interested in doing one in Europe I would suggest checking out Biology Undergraduate Summer School (BUSS) hosted by the University of Zurich in Switzerland.
The deadline is March 1st, and the program offers a wide range of research projects which would be suitable for both MCDB and EEMB students. The program is English based and covers airfare and living expenses.
I had a lot of fun at this program last summer, one of the best things about this program was that I could meet a lot of excellent researchers who work in Europe that I probably wouldn't have met otherwise. I encourage everyone to check it out.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cockroach Robot?

So, as you guys know, cockroaches are biologically extremely interesting.  They can withstand pressures up to 900 times their body weight and can compact their exoskeleton, allowing them to squeeze through the tightest of crevices at relatively high speeds.

A group of scientists at UC Berkeley have been studying cockroaches for the past few decades, and recently created a robot based on the movements of the cockroach, calling it the compressible robot with articulated mechanisms, or CRAM.  CRAM can be used to get into tight crevices, allowing search and rescue teams to locate where survivors are in masses of rubble much more efficiently than previously.  CRAM is currently just a prototype, but the possibilities are numerous.

Who would've thought that cockroaches could actually be good for something?

Here's more information on this cool robot:
*warning: don't watch the video linked on this article if you can't stand cockroaches.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Don't forget that on Thursday  we will visit the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration. You can find information and directions at their website. We will meet there at 11.00 am and you should allow 5 minutes to cycle or 10-15 minutes if you are walking over there - although that is naturally dependent on where you are walking from......

Here's a map showing the bike route from CCS (click for a larger version). As someone pointed out you don't have to cycle this way...

We will meet just inside the entrance in the classroom on the left.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Death Valley Wildflowers

Hey guys! The wildflowers are crazy at Death Valley right now! I spent a good portion of the weekend looking through pictures here and wishing I could see this rare and majestic natural event. As discussed in class, seeds have a great advantage of being able to remain dormant for extended periods of time in harsh conditions. Obviously, the seeds of these wildflowers have to stay alive over the infamous hot, dry summers, awaiting the winter rains that fall irregularly before they can develop into their mature sporophyte form to continue reproduction.
    Anyways, if you are a strange human being like me, you should check that link regularly for updates on what's poppin' in the park and if you happen to be going, please let me know....

Also, happy SoCal spring! Saw lots of early avian courtship behavior over the weekend such as singing Horned Lark (at Armour Ranch Rd), Song Sparrow (lots of them), California Thrasher, Northern Mockingbird, and Purple Finch (this morning at Devereux) while many of the overwintering birds are starting / already developed into their breeding plumage. Diving ducks seem like they're starting to move around, with the composition of species at Devereux Slough changing quite a bit over the past few weeks. Lepidopterans are also starting to get active - got lots of Sara Orangetip at Sedgwick Reserve on Saturday and a Mourning Cloak and Anise Swallowtail yesterday at Carpinteria Saltmarsh and Coronado Dr. respectively. Got my first Hooded Owlet moth last week in Manzanita Village as well. In terms of plants, got my first blooming Woolly Paintbrush and Blue Dicks of the year, also at Sedgwick Reserve. Lots of Polypody ferns, a few Southern Maidenhair (Adiantum is the best), and some Gold Fern (fave local non-Adiantum) sprouting by Tequepis Trail. Wow this rant was longer than I hoped it would be happy spring bye!!!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Keyhole Limpets Save Lives

Keyhole Limpets Save Lives!
Check this out! Giant Keyhole Limpets are saving lives with a special protein in their blood called hemocyanin! Keyhole Limpet Hemocyanin (KHL) is used as a vaccine carrier protein in many cancer treatments, most commonly to treat bladder cancer. Just think of all the cool things we can discover from organisms in the ocean. It's crazy! You can read more about KHL and its uses by pressing on the link below.

P.S. Scientist have been unsuccessful in reproducing this protein synthetically so a liter of Keyhole Limpet blood costs up to $100,000.