Posted by: atowhee | March 30, 2017

BIG AS A PERSON AND A MYSTERY ALMOST AS LARGE

The Pacific Ocean is home to the seven-arm octopus which can weigh as much as 165 pounds and have a total length of 13 feet.  Hitherto very little was known about this species except what could be learned from corpses found in fishermen’s nets.  Now the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s research vessel which is capable of great depths has captured video of this octopus eating a jellyfish.

This creature does have the required EIGHT arms to be an OCTOpus. There are seven free-reaching arms and the eighth is kept in a secret pocket, sort of on reserve.  It is known that octopuses are among the smartest invertebrates and have repeatedly shown a great ability to solve spatial problems…and escape from captivity.

The female seven-arm is the larger gender; males are only a fraction as big.  This is only the third time in 27 years of research that Monterey scientists have seen this creature alive as it lives in deep, pelagic waters.  Like many benthic creatures it is white as there is no use for color in waters so deep there is little or no light.   Monterey Bay Aquarium also pioneered research on other soft-bodied benthic creatures and found that they would not survive at the surface if the oxygen level of the water was not reduced.  They proved fine with warmer water, more light, different saline levels but oxygen was fatal so to keep them alive at the surface the aquarium found ways to de-oxygenate their tank water.

The paper published about the octopus findings concludes that these creatures feed mostly on gelatinous zooplankton, a food source also preyed on by leatherback sea turtles and tuna. For more on the research findings on this octopus, click here for Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute’s MBARI) website.

The deep sea research done at Monterey often depends on the the “Ventana” a remote-operated diving vehicle that is now 30 years old and has logged 16,000 hours underwater. This subnarine has been continually upgraded to keep up with technological advances. Fortunately the MBARI work is not federally funded and their research on the oceans and climate change will continue in spite of certain cretinous political powers in the U.S.

There is both good news and deep irony in the story of the MBARI.  It is funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Mr Packard was a prominent Republican, serving as Deputy Secretary of Defense for two years under President Richard Nixon.  Packard was co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, serving as CEO and then Chairman of the Board of that Silicon Valley start-up that went big time.  His daughter was a marine biologist and that is how he and his associates got involved in founding both the aquarium and the research institute. It seems highly unlikely such a man of science and engineering would be welcomed in today’s Republican Party.

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Responses

  1. The Endangered Species Act was signed into law by Nixon. The only other president I can think of passing such world shaking, environmental legislation was Teddy Rooseveldt. Also a Republican? The irony is enormous. Also significant that Teddy left the Republican Party before he ended his political career.


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