I have a confession to make. I’ve done something that I’m deeply embarrassed about, and I feel the need to come completely clean with you. So, I’m just gonna say it:
I watched every single episode of the failed reality dating show Ready For Love.
Wow, it feels good to get that off my chest. Read More
Shark Week is officially over. I’ve said all I have to say about the mockumentary and Discovery’s defense of it, but to properly wrap up the annual festivities, I wanted to link to all of the wonderful Cooler than #SharkWeek posts that have been shared since Wednesday. Have a sharky weekend!
I wasn’t the only one chatting about Shark Week: David Shiffman had a great CNN interview, Brian Switek explains that this is just a small part of a larger problem, and Alex Warneke explains why Discovery’s scientific integrity matters so much.
— Dr. Alistair Dove (@para_sight) August 7, 2013
Also, Megalodon was definitely not the coolest ancient shark.
Why our obsession with size? Most sharks are wee little things.
I know it seems scary, but there’s no need to fear: you’re not going to get attacked by a shark.
Did you know great whites eat more than seals?
The National Resources Defense Council gets in on the Cooler than #SharkWeek action with a conversation with shark scientist Brad Sewell, and in the same vein, more cool shark scientists from Texas A & M.
People have different personalities, but are all sharks the same?
One mom, many dads. Shark reproduction is complicated.
Can we design a shark-proof suit? Good question.
Dr Collin Drake doesn’t exist, but there are plenty of real shark biologists in the world. This week, I sat down with my friend Mark Royer, a Ph.D. Student at the University of Hawai’i who has perhaps the coolest job on Earth: he grapples with sharks for a living.
Mark is a part of the Shark Research Team from the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology, led by two of the most renowned shark biologists in the world: Carl Meyer and Kim Holland. The research group has been studying the sharks of Hawai’i for decades, and as a lab, have produced dozens of publications on shark biology, ecology, and physiology.
I can’t help but feel small in Mark’s presence—at over six feet tall, he towers over me. His loose-fitting t-shirt does nothing to hide the broad-shouldered body that lies beneath. With the musculature of a triathlete, Mark looks like he could take on just about any shark out there, save perhaps a large great white. And I know he has—as a part of his daily work, he has helped handle everything from baby hammerheads to large tiger sharks. But Mark’s intimidating stature, which among friends has earned him the moniker “Captain America”, belies the sweet young man that got to where he is now simply because he really loved the water. Read More
Discovery has responded to the hordes of angry fans defending their recent “documentary” Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives. The statement, as given to Fox News, came from executive producer of Shark Week Michael Sorensen:
“With a whole week of Shark Week programming ahead of us, we wanted to explore the possibilities of Megalodon. It’s one of the most debated shark discussions of all time, can Megalodon exist today? It’s Ultimate Shark Week fantasy. The stories have been out there for years and with 95% of the ocean unexplored, who really knows?”
“One of the most debated shark discussions of all time”? Really? While I am a marine biologist, my research is on lionfish, not sharks—maybe I’m out of the loop. So, I went to the experts. I asked Carl Meyer, Assistant Researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and co-head of the Shark Research Team, for his take. Is the extinct status of C. megalodon a “discussion” that he and his colleagues have? Read More
Discovery Channel has pissed off tons of its viewers—including me and Wil Wheaton—by launching shark week with the mockumentary “Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives”. With so much awesome shark science out there, it’s sad that they had to stoop so low for ratings. In response to the outrage, Brian Switek started “Cooler than #SharkWeek” on twitter, highlighting actual research on sharks. I’m continuing the movement by posting or reposting a blog entry about sharks every day this week. So instead of watching Shark Week, tune into Science Sushi all week for real shark science! Today we have an updated version of my 2012 Science Sushi post busting the myth that bull sharks are constantly raging on roids…
This startling image of a 1,000 pound bull shark circulated the internets, but what really caught my eye was a (mis)quote from the lead researcher. According to news outlets, he said that bull sharks “have the most testosterone of any animal on the planet, so that should tell you a little something.”
It wasn’t the first time I’d heard this whole bull sharks and testosterone bit. Indeed, all over the internet, you see claims that bull sharks are so aggressive because of their insane testosterone levels. But it was the character Bruce Kibbutz in Grand Theft Auto IV that really got people talking about bull shark testosterone. During the game, the roid-raging fitness freak explains how he juices on testosterone taken from Chilean bull sharks. Suddenly, extreme body builders and skeptics wanted to know if you could really bulk up on bull shark blood.
The rumor, as I’d heard it in college, is that the fierce attitudes of these large and aggressive sharks is due to unfathomably high circulating levels of testosterone. Specifically, these menacing monsters supposedly have higher serum testosterone levels than any species on the planet, land or sea, and that even a female bull shark has higher levels than a testosterone-raged male elephant in musth. I know I’m as much to blame as anyone, as I’ve repeated that line myself. But when I was asked about it, I realized that I didn’t know if it’s true. How do the circulating testosterone levels compare between bull sharks and other species? Could you procure enough testosterone by catching and eating bull sharks to beef up your body? Read More
Discovery Channel has pissed off tons of its viewers—including me and Wil Wheaton—by launching shark week with the mockumentary “Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives”. With so much awesome shark science out there, it’s sad that they had to stoop so low for ratings. In response to the outrage, Brian Switek started “Cooler than #SharkWeek” on twitter, highlighting actual research on sharks. I’m continuing the movement by posting or reposting a blog entry about sharks every day this week. So instead of watching Shark Week, tune into Science Sushi all week for real shark science! For today’s post, we revisit my 2011 post on the pseudoscience of shark cartilage pills…
Sharks are incredible animals. They’re some of the world’s most well known creatures, popular enough to get entire weeks of television dedicated to them. They hold a special place in our hearts and minds. Whether you fear them or love them, or a bit of both, they’ve dominated our oceans for hundreds of millions of years, and still manage to evoke powerful emotions from us.
But, as amazing as they are, they are not going to cure cancer. Read More
Discovery Channel has pissed off tons of its viewers—including me and Wil Wheaton—by launching shark week with the mockumentary “Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives”. With so much awesome shark science out there, it’s sad that they had to stoop so low for ratings. In response to the outrage, Brian Switek started “Cooler than #SharkWeek” on twitter, highlighting actual research on sharks. I’m continuing the movement by posting or reposting a blog entry about sharks every day this week. So instead of watching Shark Week, tune into Science Sushi all week for real shark science! We’ll kick it off with some sobering statistics about shark populations from my 2012 Science Sushi post, highlighting recent NOAA research on Sharks. FYI, NOAA happens to be hosting their own Shark Week (#NOAASharkWeek), which you should definitely check out!
Can you imagine oceans without sharks? We may soon have to, as new research suggests may already be 90% of the way there. Read More
Dear Discovery Communications,
I have to say, I had high hopes for this year’s Shark Week. But we’re only one special in and already, shark week has seriously jumped the shark.
I get why you had a special about C. megalodon. What shark inspires more fear and fascination than Megalodon, the Chondrichthyean monster that once dominated our planet’s oceans? The shark’s name, which translates to “giant tooth”, says it all. Their hand-sized dental records are some of the only fossilized evidence we have of these gigantic predators, which lived from ~50 million years ago to around 2 million years ago. Based on their size, scientists have estimated these sharks grew to upwards of 60 feet long with a bite force anywhere between 10 and 18 tons, and from scarred fossils we know they likely dined on the giant whales of their time. This year’s Shark Week kick-off special, Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives, claimed to provide evidence that these massive beasts are still out there, using scattered anecdotes and scientific testimony to support the assertion. There’s only one problem: the entire “documentary” wasn’t real.
Think that little plastic castle in your goldfish tank is just decoration? Not so, say scientists. Having such obstacles and spatial variety might be making Goldie smarter.
When humans first started keeping animals in captivity, we kind of sucked at it. Even when we met an animal’s every obvious need — nutrition, water, shelter, etc — some just didn’t do well. As we learned more about the minds of animals, we realized that they needed more than sustinence, and the concept of enrichment was born. Since the 1980s, captive animal facilities have been required to provide an adequate physical environment to promote the psychological well-being of species like primates and marine mammals. Most zoos and aquariums go above and beyond the mandate, insisting that the animals’ emotional and mental health is paramount. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums even goes as far as to state that enrichment is “as critical to an animal’s well-being as having the right food and medical care.”
Usually, the focus is on the smarter animals, with enrichment entailing activities like giving monkeys toys to play with, or placing an octopus’ dinner in a sealed jar for it to open. Fish aren’t exactly known for their smarts, but that doesn’t mean they won’t benefit from an enriched environment, too. New research has found that fish brains are boosted when humans add a little variety and diversity to their life, and this knowledge may help conserve key species. Read More