Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Why don't fish get lost??

Marine biologists have been trying to figure out how it is that migratory fish, such as salmon and trout, can travel to a very specific point in the ocean without needing to learn how to do so, and then return to that place year after year without mistake. The solution to this dilemma is actually simpler than we could have imagined. Michael Walker, a New Zealand neuroscientist, recently found traces of magnetite in the tissue of a trout's nostril. By its name alone, you can probably deduct that magnetite has something to do with magnets. It is, in fact, a strongly magnetic mineral. We, as humans, use compasses to figure out where we are and where we're going. However, Walker's findings support a theory that most or all animals have a sort of built-in compass. The way it works (simply put) is that the magnetite is attracted to the magnetic fields put out by the earth's poles. The cells containing the magnetite are affected by the fields, and they could then send signals to the brain, allowing for a built in compass. Many scientists believe that all migratory animals have similar modes of navigation. This is an ENORMOUS breakthrough in behavioral biology, as the mechanism animals use to migrate to the same places year after year without deviation has been a mystery for a long time.
Biologists are now trying to find similar mechanisms in pigeons, which are known for having a very developed sense of direction and distance. In fact, in both World Wars, pigeons were used to send encrypted messages to troops and commanding officers across Europe. It is very possible that humans also have this built in navigation system, but our nervous systems aren't complex enough to consciously use it.

Check out the article for more:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Whole Foods being too green?

Recently, Whole Foods Corporation has made a big decision. They announced that they're going to stop buying certain New England fish, including Atlantic cod and gray sole, unless they are up to their own standards for sustainable fishing. This has caused a sort of uproar in the New England fishing community, since there are many Maine fishers who sell their catch exclusively to Whole Foods. The reason they have an issue with this new regulation is because all of the fishers are already following government regulations. They say that Whole Foods is simply "doing it to make the green people happy."

As you probably know, Whole Foods has a reputation for catering to the "green people" (shown to the right), so this doesn't come as a surprise to me. BUT I do think that they've gone a little overboard, especially since their new regulation is based entirely on their own perception of "sustainable fishing." And this is especially outrageous considering the fact that they just signed contracts with companies who manufacture genetically modified food. So much for being green, eh? Perhaps this whole cod fiasco was intended to pacify their angry patrons. Either way, This just screwed up the year for those fishing companies.

This kind of stuff makes you wonder if you can really trust even the "green-oriented" corporations like Whole Foods because, at the root, they're still corporations. And corporations like money more than they like reason. Check out the article for yourself, and tell me what your opinion on the matter is. I will gladly throw it out the window if it's anything different than mine. (just kidding.)

Have a marvelously enriched week, friends, and thank you for taking the time to strap your eyeballs to my abridged stream of blithering foolery.

yours falsely,
max recke.

POST SCRIPT: This post was a bit overly ranty, now that I read it fully awake. Apologies. I failed to support my opinion on the issue, and may have seemed like I was attacking Whole Foods. I was a bit tired, and didn't get too deeply into the details. The fact of the matter is that Atlantic Cod is considered vulnerable, likely from overfishing. Though this isn't endangered or even really threatened, it means that continuing to harvest them at this rate will demote them to a threatened status. I just believe that cutting off fishermen who have sold their catches exclusively to Whole Foods for many years isn't really doing much to solve the issue. They can easily find new buyers, who will likely have higher demand and lower standards for what they buy than Whole Foods' old standards. And on a side note, Whole Foods also added that they will still accept cod caught with gill nets. This is a bit distressing to me, because gill net fishing in New England causes the deaths of hundreds of porpoises every year. That is all. Have a wonderful Monday.

source article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/us/to-new-england-fishermen-another-bothersome-barrier.html?_r=1

random picture of a nematode.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

AOTW #6: Carcharodon carcharias

Ladies and Gentlemen! I am absolutely DELIGHTED to present to you... the proverbial Creme de la Creme of the icthyological realm. The KING of fish! The descendant of the great beast MEGALODON. I give you.... The Great White Shark!!! 

If you know me well, you may be wondering why I haven't done this AOTW already... I mean, it IS my favorite animal ever! My answer is simply- I haven't the slightest idea. 

The great white shark. In my opinion, easily one of the most beautiful animals on the face of the earth. This beast of legends and lore is not what many people think, though. A monster, it is not. A maneater, it is not. Interesting, it sure as dern heck is!

C. carcharias (yes, I've memorized the spelling of that) belongs to the Carcharodon genus, in which it is the only species. Great whites are the largest of the lamniformes (or, commonly, mackerel sharks), which are pretty much the text-book shark that most people think of when they hear the word shark. But the main issue is that the picture they see in their mind is usually similar to this one. Over thousands of years, humans have attributed the great white's fearsome appearance to a habit of eating human flesh, which is extremely inaccurate. In fact, sharks spit humans out when they get a taste because we don't taste very good! The main reason a great white ever has to attack a person is when he or she is floating at the surface in a wetsuit. Why is that? The answer is pretty simple! Sharks eat seals, and from 40 yards away, and the sun shining from above, you look pretty darn identical to a seal. And once that happens, a hungry shark goes into beast mode. The shark will roll its eyes back into their heads in order to protect them and just torpedo up at whatever it is that it may be going for. My point is that sharks don't just go around attacking people for the fun of it. 

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I'll get to the facts and all that good stuff. The great white shark is the largest predatory fish in the ocean right now, and is one of the primary predators of marine mammals. As I said before, they eat mostly seals and sea lions. It so turns out that I live very close to one of the 3 largest concentrations of pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, walruses, etc.) on earth. This, in turn, means that I also live near one of the 3 areas most inhabited by C. carcharias. These three areas are off the coasts of Southern California, South Africa, and Australia. 

Since we're talking about WHAT great whites eat, what about HOW sharks eat? Sharks are very unique in many ways, especially in their feeding behavior. Many great whites, especially those living in the regions previously mentioned, actually JUMP clear out of the water in the attempt at catching seals. This is simply because seals are fast, and slippery, and the further out of the water the shark gets, the better grip it can get on the seal. This video shows the surreal occurrence in slow motion. It really makes you realize how powerful and breathtaking C. carcharias really is. I think it's one of the most beautiful natural phenomena on earth.

Great whites eat seals, because apparently seals taste good. why do YOU think that you almost never hear of a shark actually consuming a person? It's simply because humans don't taste very good. Not enough meat or fat, whereas a seal has a thick layer of blubber, and lots of muscle underneath.

That brings me to my next topic, which is what kind of impact have sharks had on people, and vice-versa? For thousands of years, probably ever since humans stepped foot on earth and came in contact with sharks, great whites have been on the sharp end of the stick, and mostly because they don't look very nice. And then, to magnify the issue, sometimes a shark attacks a person. Ever since the first shark attack, humans have automatically associated the word "shark" with evil. What has this led to on the sharks' side? Millions of sharks just killed for the sake of killing, because a lot of people think that sharks need to die, that they are the devil's beasts, blah blah blah. And if you've read my other posts, you know that even the slightest unnecessary change in a marine ecosystem can throw everything off. Imagine what happens when millions of one of the most important animals in the food chain are killed?

I went on a little rant for a while there, so I'm just gonna get back to the facts. Sharks are really unique animals and have a lot of really cool characteristics that no other animals have. For starters, sharks have a very interesting set of teeth. in fact, sharks don't really have teeth in their mouths, per se. A shark's teeth are actually hardened, dense scales. The main difference between a shark's teeth and most animals' is that shark teeth don't have roots, which means they are relatively easy to be broken or pulled out. To compensate for this, sharks have another unique dental characteristic. A shark's teeth grow in endless rows, as if on a conveyor belt. The image above is a model of a cross section of a great white's jaw. You can see here how the teeth flip up out of the jaw and around it, and this is a process that doesnt end until the shark dies. Their bodies are constantly making new teeth.

As I've already spent a lot of words ranting, and this post is getting quite long, I'm going to end it here, and continue in another AOTW! :) Thank you for reading! And if you want to learn more about C. carcharias, Google is a good start :) Have a great day!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

AOTW #3 Not Your Everyday Christmas Tree (Spirobranchus giganteus)

Yes, that is correct, a Christmas tree. What does that have to do with AOTW? In the middle of MAY? There is an interesting little animal, which looks as if it was taken out of a Dr. Seuss book, called a Christmas tree worm. Why is it called a Christmas tree worm? Take a look for yourself!

See? It looks like a blue Dr. Seuss Christmas tree. But the funny thing about this natural beauty is that it has no relation whatsoever with plants in any way, shape (okay maybe shape), or form. This critter is actually a species of tube worm, a group of invertebrates which retract into its tube casing to avoid predators, and then comes back out to filter-feed upon plankton and small food particles floating in the water.

Christmas tree worms, or Spirobranchus giganteus, are very interesting and eye-catching to watch in nature, sometimes even in home aquariums. They anchor themselves on hard, live corals, to keep from being swept away by strong currents. In fact, most of the actual worm is burrowed inside the coral where it can't be seen from the outside. The part you see, the "plumes," or tentacles, are used for filter feeding. Each tentacle is adorned with hundreds of tiny fibers, kind of like feathers. They use their feathers like a... well, like a filter. That's where the term "filter feeding" comes from. They also use these plumes for respiration, like gills. 
This isn't necessarily a Christmas tree worm,
but it is a tube worm, and it has a very similar
anatomical structure. 
If you remember James Cameron's movie, Avatar, you might remember the part when Jake (the guy in an alien's body) finds a field of strange plants that look a lot like Christmas tree worms! In fact, they are alike in more ways than just looks. Just like the plants in Avatar, Christmas tree worms are extremely sensitive to any disturbances in the water or coral around them, and when they are disturbed, they fly right back down in their tubes before you can say "abracadabra." 

There is an odd (yet common) misconception about strange looking animals... Notice that my last AOTW, the Mola mola, was surprisingly very common in all tropical waters around the world. You can say the same about Spirobranchus giganteus, which lives on almost every tropical coral reef on earth! The truth about strange looking animals is not what humans think it is. People always rationalize by what they can see at any given moment, so we automatically think that something that looks abnormal is abnormal. That might be confusing, but abnormal pretty much means uncommon. Some of the most common animals on earth are REALLY funny looking. Something to think about the next time you look at an animal and say, "ew what an ugly creature" And besides, humans are weird, too! What other creeper animal do you know that has most of its hair on its head, walks using its heels and entire foot, uses their hands to pick stuff up, cooks food, wears clothes, and is probably the only animal (ooohhh i just called humans animals. That's what we are.) that kills other animals for both fun, and for emotional reasons. Just think about that the next time you see a spider, or a worm, or a mole, because some of the oddest looking animals are the most abundant. 
p.s. and be careful... they might just decide to start a rebellion. ;)

Extinction of the Masses... Again?

Uh oh... Scientist have recently discovered an alarming piece of evidence that suggest that prehistoric mass extinctions in the past may be a warning that the same thing could easily happen again. And it is all due to greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are gases that cause infrared radiation in the lower atmosphere, which in turn causes a strong increase in temperature on earth (a WHOPPING 60 degrees Fahrenheit!). Global warming is caused by these dangerous temperature spikes. There are now so-called "greenhouse oceans" which have lower oxygen levels and higher carbon dioxide levels than they ever had before, and it's all because of greenhouse gases. 

What does that have to do with mass extinction? As a matter of fact, a new development in core sample studies have shown that greenhouse oceans had (theoretically) a great impact on many prehistoric environments. Geologists off the coast of western africa studied layers of sediment from the late Cretaceous Period across a 400,000 year timespan. What they discovered is very alarming, considering the predicament we find ourselves in at the moment. They found a very large amount of marine life remains in the sediment. they were all buried within a layer of dangerously deoxygenated layers of the sediment. 

The even scarier thing is that there are already many "dead zones" in the oceans, which are areas of water which have been deprived of oxygen and loaded with CO2, rising temperatures, and runoff from agriculture. This is a sign that the oxygen levels on earth are depleting. But it's not over! As you may know, the ocean is a very sensitive environment. Even the tiniest variation in temperature or vital gas levels can throw an entire ecosystem off-kilter. So when the oxygen decreases, millions of marine organisms die, and millions more are forced to new ecosystems. 

On the brighter side, though, these periods of oxygen depravity (called hypoxic phases) seem to be temporary, and the oxygen levels improve. But this doesn't mean that these phases cannot be prevented, or at least made to happen less often. The only way to do that would be to treat the earth differently, and try to stop the advance of global warming.

original article:

AOTW#5: Ninja Shrimp!

Ninja shrimp? That sounds like the title of some cheesy animated family movie, doesn't it? In actuality, it's my way of saying a really, REALLY fast crustacean. This, my friends, is the Mantis Shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus). This colorful critter is a part of the Stomatopoda order of Crustaceans. Despite its name, it's closely related to neither shrimp nor mantids, but rather their own group of organisms. You can probably tell why its common name labels it as a shrimp, but there are many telltale differences between the two organisms.

The most obvious of these characteristics is that the Stomatopods are exceptionally larger than most species of shrimp. The peacock mantis shrimp (pictured above) can grow up to a length of 7 inches long! That's a pretty big shrimp-- ahem-- stomatopod, if you ask me.

You may be wondering why they are called "mantis" shrimp, as well. If you look at the image to the left, this mantis shrimp (Squilla mantis) reveals its long forelimbs, which act as a kind of akimbo (dual-wielding) spears which whip forward, much like the forelegs of a praying mantis. Stomatopods use these appendages to hunt for small fish and other crustaceans (unlike shrimp, who mostly scavenge fish carcasses or filter feed plankton) and sometimes even ritualized fighting. Kind of like UFC for crustaceans... UCFC (Ultimate Crustacean Fighting Championship... I'm such a dork). This is because mantis shrimp are very territorial, also unlike the communal legit shrimp.

As a conclusion to this post, I would like to thank you for reading my posts about the "odd" looking animals which reside in the great oceans. I hope that I've opened your eyes to things you never really thought about before, or things you just plain didn't know. This being said, I declare the AOTW miniseries of exceptionally odd fish over. (that doesn't mean I won't throw in some funny lookin' critters along the way, though!)

Thank you! And have a great day! (or morning, or possibly afternoon, or noon, or tea time, or supper, or midnight, or half past a monkey's... well, you get the point!)

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Sharks are, without any doubts or second thoughts, my favorite of all animals. No, not the man-eating sharks you see in false media depictions, like in "Jaws" or "Deep Blue Sea". I'm talking about the group of animals, belonging to the superorder Selachimorpha, who are, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful groups of animals on earth. Sharks are a very important part of any marine ecosystem, in ways that most people would think of as negative impact. Sharks are up at the top of the food chain in most of the oceans, which means that they have very few or, in most cases, no natural predators. As a result, they are the ones who eat the most, but they are naturally not as abundant as the animals who are a bit lower on the food chain. The only problem with humans is that for thousands of years, the common person has looked at sharks as "sea devils", and other names which suggest that sharks are evil. Sharks are NOT evil! They don't even like the taste of humans! My point is that sharks are not the ones to look out for, it's the people killing them out of fear of the unknown. We should be protecting sharks, if anything! This leads me to tell you about a program I recently stumbled upon while browsing MarineBio.org 

You may have heard of "Adopt-a-road" programs in your city, or seen those commercials that plead for you to donate a small amount of money every month to feed children in some remote place on earth, but I bet you haven't heard about the new program recently started in Miami, Florida, in order to help the conservation of the native shark species in that area. This article  is all about the program. Don't get all excited, there! No, you cannot actually adopt a shark to have as your pet. But what you can do is donate a sum of $2000.00 for a satellite tracking device to be attached to a shark off the Florida coast. So why should you donate your hard-earned money to this research program? Because first of all, sharks are one of the most important parts of the SW U.S. ecosystem. In fact, they are the most important in most ecosystems on earth. You may not know this, but the animals at the top of the food chain are just as important as plants, if not more so. Nevertheless, they are still the group of species in an ecosystem with the smallest population. This leads to the second reason to donate, which is that the research that will no doubt come out of this program could lead to new conservation measures, such as keeping zones of the coastal waters that have a high concentration of sharks off-limits to fishers. This would help to keep the native sharks abundant in the coastal waters, so they can continue to play their role in nature. Check out this article and decide for yourself how much you care about these amazing animals!

Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2011/05/18/2019489/floridas-adopt-a-shark-program.html#ixzz1MpCPyRtV

Thanks for reading!

AOTW #4: Flamboyant Cuttlefish

Flamboyant -


1. strikingly bold or brilliant; showy: flamboyant colors.

2. conspicuously dashing and colorful: the flamboyant idol ofinternational society.

3. florid; ornate; elaborately styled: flamboyant speeches.

A fitting name for this appealing cephalopod, the word flamboyant means literally "flaming" in French. Take a look at the animal which has surely earned its name: Pfeffer's Flamboyant Cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi) 
This colorful animal is a species of cuttlefish, which belong to the order Sepiida, within the Cephalopoda class. Other than its surprising and flamboyant (hence its name) coloration and skin protrusions, M. pfefferi is not so different than other cuttlefishes.

Cuttlefishes, including M. pfefferi, are a group of reef-dwelling cephalopods which are very well distributed around the world. M. pfefferi in specific is native to the coasts of Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The main characteristic which sets cuttlefishes apart from most cephalopods (octopi, squid, nautilus) is that they swim head-first, instead of abdomen first.

Another interesting fact about the cuttlefish is that it has something called a cuttlebone in its abdomen, which looks similar to a mango seed if you cut all the fruit off. This organ is used as a sort of flotation device, and can be filled with air or fluids when it wants to either float up or descend deeper into the water. You might remember a similar buoyancy system in my first AOTW, the nautilus. The cuttlebone is often placed in bird cages for something to chew and stand on so that the birds' beaks and talons don't get too long or sharp.

Like most cuttlefish, M. pfefferi feeds on small crustaceans (i.e. shrimp, small crabs) and fish. They capture their prey using their 8 arms and 2 longer tentacles (which have suction cup-type organs typical of cephalopods).

Thank you for reading!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Send-A-Pyrate-To-Camp 2012 Fund

As you might know, I spent my last school year enrolled in a virtual academy.  this experience has turned my life 180 degrees around and I began to think "What's going to happen after high school?", and "Where do I want to end up?"  After some thinking and research, and with my mom's help, I decided on what I want to do.  I want to earn a PhD in Marine Science.
There are a few things that could help me get into college, and also give me more experience with my passion for science.  Next summer, there will be 2 summer camp programs at UC Berkley and Brown University which are geared towards science and ecology.
I really badly want to go to these summer camps because I believe that I can learn a lot from the two experiences not just in marine biology but also leadership and character development (my mom says "not that he's not already a character").

Each of these programs is quite expensive and I have to come up with about $10,000 by February of 2012.  That is a lot of money but I came up with an idea.  What if everybody I know pitched in a small amount?  I calculated that if I could get 50 people to donate $200 (or $20 every month until February), I could pay for airfare and tuition without sending my mom to her grave early.  I will be saving $20 each month from my own allowance as well.
What I need from you is any amount of help you can offer.  So, you can go to my fundraising website here to read more about the summer programs I'm applying for next year and then donate any amount you wish.

In return,  I will do my very best to make you proud, and I offer my thanks  with a monthly newsletter written personally by me, that will include a summary of my school progress, stories about the volunteer work I may be doing at the Long Beach Marine Institute and the Cabrillo Aquarium, and links to my latest blog posts here on Salumaximus.  Best of all, you will receive an exclusive invitation to a donor appreciation/bon voyage party in May 2012, hosted by my mom.  Thank you in advance for your participation and consideration.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

AOTW#2 Mola mola

 I was trying to decide which animal I wanted to do for this week's AOTW, and I realized something that many people don't quite appreciate enough. There are some REALLY funny looking fish in the sea... There are many sea creatures that, were you to see them, you'd probably think, "That's one ugly fish.  Must be some sort of mutant." So, as a display of my respect and recognition of these weirdos of the sea, I want to spend the next 5 AOTW's telling you about these oddballs.

To start out this miniseries, take a look at this fish^^^^
Pretty odd looking, right? He looks to me like a pancake crossed with a shark crossed with a clam gone wrong, or some sort of alien race that has the power of levitation and floats around making odd noises... Okay, maybe I thought that one out too much... I tend to do that. Back to the fish. So what the heck is this creeper fish???  I use the word creeper to describe most things that seem odd to me. Sue me. Well, some people call it by its latin name, Mola mola. Funny name for a funny fish, eh? Its common name is more understandable, and a lot more boring- the Oceanic Sunfish. If you look at the tail of this odd creature, it sort of looks like the beams from a cartoon sun. The real reason for its common name is one of its interesting, nevertheless strange, habits. Mola mola often swim to the surface of the water to bask in the sun. Also, Germans (DEUTCHLAND!!!) call the mola mola Schwimmender kopf, which literally translates to "swimming head."   This moniker can be accredited to the sunfish's odd body-shape.

One very obvious anatomical characteristic of the Mola mola is the fact that it is completely missing its tail fin! That's right, its tail (caudal) fin is replaced by a strange "pseudo-tail," or clavus. This odd appendage is formed by the convergence of the dorsal (that tall fin on the mola's back) and the anal (the one on its underside) fins. This peculiar adaptation makes it so that they cannot move through the water like other fish. Most fish use their caudal (tail) fins to swim through the water, by moving them back and forth. The Mola mola does not have a caudal fin. And no, they do not just sink to the bottom of the ocean and just lie there. They have evolved their dorsal and anal fins to be longer and more flexible than most fish, and they use these modified fins to kind of flap through the water, like a sideways bird.

This is a fry (hatchling) Mola mola.
Besides its strange appearance, the Mola mola is a pretty normal fish in regards to habitat and and distribution. They are surprisingly spread across every single tropical sea on earth, and are very abundant. This is because they lay more eggs at one time than any other vertebrate to ever set foot, or fin, on this planet. Guess how many eggs that is! 100,000? nope. 500,000? warmer... 1,000,000? still not there yet. The mola mola can lay up to 300,000,000 eggs... at one time! Pretty phenominal, especially when you consider that all of the eggs that get fertilized and hatch, and survive at least a few months, will grow to be over 10 feet long! Thanks to their flat bodies, they will also be about as tall as they are long. That is one BIG swimming fish head pancake, if you ask me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

AOTW #1: Nautilus

AOTW: Animal of The Week. I'm gonna have one post every week on a different marine organism. This week I chose a very unique family of mollusks to kick off this series. The Nautilus! The family Nautilidae is made up of many different species of cephalopods, most of which have coiled shells. These tentacled critters have been jetting through the earth's oceans since the Triassic period, and they haven't changed very much since then. There is one very special characteristic these organisms have that set them apart from other cephalopods.

This odd characteristic has led the species in the Nautilus family to be dubbed "chambered nautilus." Why chambered? I'll explain. The inside of the a nautilus' shell is divided into chambers, called camerae, which act as ballast tanks when the nautilus wants to sink deeper into the water (in which case the camerae are either filled with fluid, or the gas inside is released) or if it wants to float closer to the surface.

Like most cephalopods, nautilae use a jet-like locomotion system which consists of sucking and expelling water through the hyponome, which is located in the opening of the shell below the tentacles. The hyponome is a tube-like organ under the body of the nautilus, and its sole purpose is for propulsion. Also like most cephalopods, this mode of movement also means that a nautilus moves through the water backwards. They can move very fast when threatened, but usually nautilae just slowly scoot around in the open ocean.

How do they know where they're going? Well, they can't see very well. Their eyes do not have a solid lens like most animals, so they rely more upon olfactory (smell) sense to find food and mates. Nevertheless, this sensory setback obviously doesn't affect the nautilus' life span. They can live up to 20 years, which is a lot longer than most cephalopods.

OM NOM NOM NOM, says the nautilus. Nautiluses are predators, and they mainly feed upon shrimp, small fish, and crustaceans. They use their tentacles to snag their prey. Though their meals may seem small to you, they don't need to eat more than once a month. This is because very little energy is used while they swim.

Alright. There is my explanation of these awesome creatures. If I have not satisfied you with my plethora of knowledge about these enthralling animals, go here. I hope you have enjoyed, and leave comments with suggestions, or any questions you may have! Thanks for reading, and have a good evening. Or morning, depending on where you are hailing from.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Plastic Pacific

That gray blob above the scale outline
of Texas is the approximate location
and size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
WHAT'S UP, PEOPLE? Hey, guys... I want to talk about a very serious issue that has been around since the invention of a thing called plastic. As many of you may know, the ocean is one of the most polluted environments on earth. We humans dump over 14 billion pounds of garbage into the oceans every year. There is actually a legitimate patch of floating garbage in the Pacific Ocean which is twice as large as the state of Texas. Most of this waste is plastic! Plastic is made from petroleum, a substance that the ocean cannot digest, or decompose. So over thousands of years, the bits of plastic just get smaller, and break up, but never completely decompose. So, there ends up being trillions of little specs of plastic. You might be wondering, "What's so bad about little microscopic pieces of plastic?" Even though those little tiny specs may not harm larger fish and other animals directly, the particles set off a chain of events. Not a good one, either.
More Plastic Than PLANKTON???

This is what pretty much happens: Microscopic flecks of plastic are eaten by plankton. Plankton die, or get sick. Now there is 6x as much plastic as plankton, and most of the plankton are now contaminated. These contaminated plankton are then consumed, along with the larger pieces of plastic, by small fish. This fish is now contaminated. Repeat this scenario all the way to the top of the food chain, and shazam! You have an entire ecosystem of either dead or contaminated organisms! 

Jellyfish tangled in plastic debris.

It is really sad, if you ask me. But that isn't even the worst part. There is already so much plastic floating in the ocean that marine ecologists and marine engineers are no longer trying to figure out how to remove it all. In harsher words, we pretty much screwed ourselves beyond the point of return.

According to scientists, our only hope as of today is to stop contributing to the trash dump which used to be our beautiful oceans.

That being said, I want to point you towards Recycling 101. This site will tell you all you need to know about the habit that just might save the world: RECYCLING! Now that you've read this, pick up a bottle when you see it lingering around a gutter or in a pond. You never know what kind of animals' lives you just might save. 
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