For someone who is doing a PhD on primates in rainforests, these last four months have involved an awful lot of marine science. This has partly been due to spending three months summarising evidence of the extent of microplastic pollution in the world’s oceans, but also partly due to being part of an eclectic lab that will sometimes push you out of your comfort zone and make you get your head around conservation problems to which your previous reaction would have been ‘nod along vacantly’. Last weekend things came to the fore when we ran an outreach event at SeaLife Manchester on ocean acidification- a prime example of one of those conservation problems which I’d heard of, but actually knew very little about. Friday night was therefore spent frantically searching for some sort of summary- however, I needn’t have worried.
Step forward NOAA- the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration- who it turns out have a series of brilliant podcasts covering everything from coral bleaching and algal blooms to trying to improve the captive breeding success of a giant oceanic snail (links here and here). They are currently making up the bulk of my evening listening- in particular I’d recommend the ones on ocean acidification (obs), lionfish, saving the vaquita, and white abalones (I could have recommended many more but the list was getting too long). They’re short but sweet, only lasting around 20 minutes or so, but each features a conversation with a scientist working on the front line of marine issues. I’ve learnt something new with every single one.
I therefore set off for SeaLife feeling considerably more knowledgeable- and my day’s volunteering was rewarded with seeing my first ever peacock mantis shrimp. There’s always a chance that an animal you’ve read a lot about will turn out to be a disappointment in real life- but I can honestly say he was one of the most beautiful but most nightmarish creatures I’ve ever seen. Sadly I the only decent photograph I managed to get is the one above, of one of the aquarium’s seahorses. He was rather handsome.