Monday, October 14, 2013

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada on Instagram

Three months ago I started working at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada. In that time I've worked day and night with a team of amazing aquarists to get the tanks ready and animals established. This past Saturday we opened our doors to a select few "Friends & Family" as a pre-opening sneak peek of the facility. Our official opening day is Wednesday, October 16, 2013.

Up until now we've been forbidden to share any photos of the facility with the public, but on Saturday there was a surge of social media activity from the guests. Browsing Instagram, I was a little blown away by how many beautiful photos were captured in just one day. Here is a selection of my favourite shots.

And the best videos:

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Is Sharon Stone an Ocean Nerd?

The internet is abuzz humming with news of a Russian estate agent who bought himself a £1.2 million trip into outer space alongside Leonardo DiCaprio at yesterday's amfAR Cinema Against AIDS gala. Overlooked is the more pertinent news that there may be a dedicated ocean-nerd in the midst of Hollywood's elite. This annual Cannes star-studded event was hosted by Sharon Stone, who arrived decked out in some heavily nature-inspired haute couture.

Actress Sharon Stone at the 2013 Cannes amfAR Cinema Against AIDS Gala

The most noticeable feature of her outfit was the bulky red sea star cuff clasping her wrist so lifelike, it almost seemed as though it were really clinging with hundreds of tiny tube feet. The rubies and diamonds encrusting the gold realistically mimicked the characteristic spiny texture of echinoderm skin. Echinoderm literally translates to "spiny skin" in Latin, and it is the taxonomic phylum in which sea stars, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers are classified.

Ruby and diamond sea star cuff by Swiss jewelry designer de GRISOGONO.

The typical spiny texture of sea star skin.

A golden serpent suspended with gold chains along the spine of her ivory Roberto Cavalli gown rivalled the sea star in both boldness and bad ass-ness. Okay, so it's not actually sea snake, since the tail is not laterally flattened, as it is in snakes whose bodies are adapted for a swimming lifestyle. But the serpent is a symbol that has long been associated with marine mythology, so I won't hold this detail against her.

Sharon Stone wearing an ivory floor-length Roberto Cavalli gown with golden serpent.

The morphological difference between the tails of a land and sea snake.

Arguably the most interesting and unusual piece incorporated in Stone's gala getup was her gold clutch, which uncannily resembles the dentition of a stingray dental plate. As both an elasmobranch and fashion enthusiast, this accessory really triggered my sartorial salivary glands. Take a look at the similarity yourself...

 This is a stingray dental plate, embedded in which are rows of hexagonal teeth:
A typical stingray dental plate, lined with rows of hexagonal teeth.

And this is the gold clutch Sharon Stone wore to the amfAR Gala:
The gold clutch worn by Sharon Stone to the 2013 amfAR gala, resembling a stingray dental plate.

Is it a coincidence that Stone's clutch looked like the inside of a sting ray's mouth? Who knows. But I choose to think not. Did she assemble this statement of an outfit herself, or did a biophilic stylist? Who cares*. I adore it either way.

For those interested, Sharon Stones other accessories included:

TUBETTO ring by de GRISOGONO

JANE ring by de GRISOGONO

ANNELI earrings by de GRISOGONO

*Wait, I care. I want to know all the ocean-themed fashion accessories that exist. Someone tell me who styled this killer outfit! And also, where is that clutch from?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Manta Ray vs Stingray: What's The Difference?

It has come to my attention that many people aren't sure what the difference is between a manta ray and a stingray, and often misuse the two terms. Let me clarify.

In short, a manta ray is a type of stingray. A manta ray is to a stingray like a boa is to a snake.

I've noticed some people will slap term "manta ray" onto any old stingray, which is incorrect, as a manta ray is a specific genus within the ray group.

This is what a manta ray looks like:

The manta ray has distinct white markings and cephalic fins on either side of the head. And it's huge.
This is what a southern stingray looks like:

A southern stingray is NOT a manta ray.
This is what a cownose ray looks like:

A cownose ray is NOT a manta ray.
The manta ray genus is within the eagle ray family. This is what a spotted eagle ray looks like:

A spotted eagle ray is NOT a manta ray.
Once again, the manta ray:

A manta ray IS a manta ray.
Hope this clears some things up! Now please don't ever call a stingray a manta ray again.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Deep Sea ID App for iPhone



Just a few days ago the Natural History Museum released an iPhone app that contains taxonomic information for over 20, 000 deep sea species, with eerie pictures and all. This is pretty much the first app that's been able to tear me away from my new obsession with Vine.
Deep Sea ID is a field guide interface to the World Register of Deep-Sea Species (WoRDSS) that currently stores on your device (for offline access) the taxonomic information for over 20,000 deep-sea species, over 350 high-resolution photographs of deep-sea specimens as well as links to online taxonomic tools, sources and important references. The app is designed for the scientific community but also offers a visual tour of the remarkable biodiversity of deep sea life that is of interest to educators and the general public.
Download the app here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sea Urchins Planktonic Origins from Parafilms

I nearly lost my mind when I found this gem of a video on Vimeo's Staff Pick list. It's a beautifully shot video clip of the sea urchin its adult and larval forms. The sea urchin is one of my favourite animals, and its larval form holds a special place in my heart, as the animal I researched for my undergraduate thesis. 

The clip is from a documentary series known as "The Plankton Chronicles," which, as the title aptly suggests, chronicles different types of plankton that inhabit the ocean. The cinematography is astounding. Watch below!


Some screencaps: 


Close-up of the surface of a sea urchin
The larval form of sea urchin, the pluteus larva.

Zygotes in early stages of division
Ova being released by a female urchin


Monday, February 11, 2013

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind


Well this is disturbing.



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Giant Squid Filmed for First Time

Scientists in Japan have captured on film, for the first time ever, footage of a living giant squid ( Architeuthis dux) in its natural habitat, in the depths of the ocean, over 600 meters below the surface.

Giant squids sightings are very rare because of the great depths at which they live. Previous video footage of giant squid has been in shallow waters, with the animal already dead.


More info at Deep Sea News