Monthly Archives: August 2011
Article published in the magazine “Crónicas de los Tiempos“, in April 2002This is the year 2070 I have just turned 50, but I my appearance is of somebody of 85. I suffer from serious kidney problems, because I do not drink enough water. I’m afraid I do not have much time left to live. I am one of the oldest people in this society.
For the past two months, I have been given the most wonderful opportunity to work on the beautiful Coral Coast of Fiji, studying the chemical ecology of various coral-algal interactions (Rasher and Hay 2010). Living in a village, working on the reefs and exploring the paradise of Fiji is an experience I will forever hold near to my heart. Alas, all good things must eventually come to an end and I find myself headed back to the good ‘ole U.S. of A. today. A bittersweet feeling as I am so very excited for the enticement of a hot shower, but my little island in the sun will be greatly missed. Moce (Farewell) Fiji! It’s been great.
Some perk’s of working in the S. Pacific…
Okay. So just to put it out there. No, I am not making this up. I wouldn’t go as far as saying the incident in question has scarred me for life, but it has definitly made me think twice about watching my back…or my butt as it were…underwater.
Let’s back up a little bit. So my initial encounter with the bizzare creature giving you the stanky eye above occured a couple of months ago while diving off the aquamarine coast of Key Largo. Doing some work with the National Undersea Research Center, this was my first experience in warm, tropical, semi-coral filled waters and the array of life they contain. After a couple of action packed days of sciencing and surveys, I had become quite use to the terrain, until that fateful dive. My buddy and I had been scrubbing cages, when I was no longer comforted by the sound of her brush on the other side of the cage. Why had she stopped I wondered, so curiously, I investigated. Looking up…WTH is that! I had never seen anything like it and why would it not go away?Perhaps more importantly, does it have teeth? Both of us sat there dumbfounded and a little apprehensive until finally we had to surface. Even then, the damn thing kept dive bombing us throughout our entire ascent. What was it’s deal?
Anyways long story short, upon reaching the boat and describing our puzzling encounter, we were educated on the fishy creeper who had no comprehension of a “personal bubble.”
Short for: Remora remora
Rapper name: Sharksucker
Specs: 30-90 cm long, Modified Grill in the form of a flattened dorsal fin
Superpower: Uses sucking organ on dorsal side for hitch-hiking rides with their homies like whales, sharks, dolphins, turtles, rays, boats, divers, etc. This is a type of Commensalism known as Phoresy, where you are only in it to bum a ride. Some Remoras may actually be useful, cleaning bacteria and parasites as they go.
Once I knew what it was, it all made sense. I had seen them previously, however, only in their attached state. Cool.
Fast forward to just last month, my 21st birthday to be exact. (Luck for you I still remember this part of the day). Now residing in Fiji, the north side of the big island, out for a birthday dive with my mates and the same dive buddy. Just swimming along minding my own business, when she stops me mid kick and just points. I look. Nothing. Keep swimming. Again she stops me, and now I am like okay what? Shark? (We had already seen a couple that dive). Turn around. Nothing. Now she is busting up, snapping pictures of the invisible thing we were supposedly both looking at. I keep looking…that’s it she must be Narc’ed (slang for Nitrogen Narcosis, a condition of imaired judgement or state of delusion while scuba diving). A good 5 minutes this debauchery continues, Until finally she grabs me and shows me the camera. Oh…well…Who has kissed your butt recently?
Quoting the illustrious words of a rapping legend, (one which despite his unfortunate mix-up with a gummy bear army), I hold quite near and dear to my heart…
“Let’s take a journey…”
Unlike Snoop, however, my journey is of a different, more watery flavor. As some of you may or may not know, I am currently on my way to becoming what some people refer to as a “Marine Biologist.” Other lost souls, such as certain grad students I know, have been known to call this profession by more prolific and explicit names of which I am unable to mention here due to censorship laws. But beyond that, it is what I always wanted to be when I grew up, so here I am…on my way.
Although slightly and admittedly new to the game, I have picked up some tidbits here and there on my chosen career path such as what’s expected, what I have to look forward to in the future and what I have to avoid at all necessary costs (interestingly this list is somewhat longer than the others). All in all, I am still here and the horror stories haven’t trumped my call to the big blue brine just yet.
At any rate, despite my short time playing the game, I have learned one very important lesson. Most academics in the field of science, although highly knowledgeable, lack proper communication skills. Sure, they can bust out a decent 10 page paper about some god awful subject and publish it in Ecology for the select few in the scientific community to appreciate…but what about the 6 billion other people on the planet who have no idea that sea urchins and sea cucumbers are related? What about them? They need to know how cool science can be too! Why we love it so much…Why we spend our lives (and tax payer dollars) dedicated to finding the answers to life’s great little mysteries. They need to know and we need to tell them.
Thus, DJ’s Locker was born. Adding a somewhat more funky vibe to the scientific blog-o-sphere, I am putting in my two cents as it were (and trying to learn a bit myself). Telling everyone and anyone who will listen how bad ass marine science actually is and giving them a reason, multiple actually, why they should care about our oceans. From pictures to policy, conservation to cone snails, rappers to wrasses. Wait…rappers? Oh yes. It’s a new generation of scientists ladies and gentlemen. Join me on the journey…its going to be one hell of a ride.
And just because I feel like dancing….