On the prowl. Stay out of the way.

Hunting

So not practically dangerous, but still one of the most venomous snakes in the world.

Spotted this guy on one of my first dives leading alone as a divemaster.

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Tomato clown + bubble anemone

Tamatar wallah

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Snake in the water

Banded sea krait

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Hit and run… I’m OK. My bike isn’t.

Damn Subaru knocked my shoe off.

On my way home tonight, while riding hard but slow up a hill, I was rammed by a green Subaru. I heard the car coming up rather quick, turned my head to look and then was, all of a sudden, rolling up the hood of said car.

This is cliche: It all happened so fast. The hit literally knocked my right sock (and shoe) off.

I assume the driver was looking the other way (checking a blind spot and switching lanes) or confused by the weird intersection and lane markers. One lane — the one I occupied — is straight only; the right lane is turn only. Whatever the reason, car on bike doesn’t work out so well.

The driver paused a bit and then — about the time I stood up — drove off. I didn’t get a look at the plates.

I called 911, less for my health and more to file a report. Medics checked me out. Mostly they just let me sit in the ambulance and an officer took down details. There’s no insurance to cover the bike damage (tear), but at least a police record might help to change road signage in favor of bikers.

This is a great example of why bike lanes are necessary. And also, why more, not fewer, bikers should ride on the road. Drivers aren’t looking for us because too many bikers are timid and ride on the sidewalks.

The tire, wheel and rear of my bike is bent to hell. Some or all of it may need replacing.

Nothing major on me, as much as I can tell, was hurt. I could stand and carry my bike off the road. The bike suffered far worse than I.

I got checked out by medics. A police officer took a report and then gave me and my sad bike a ride home.

Not particularly happy about my bike being wrecked. I’m thankful, though: I’m only scratched up a bit; my right leg (the good knee, unfortunately) is sore and tweaked but I’m hoping that’s not anything serious.

Today I’ve actually felt a bit euphoric when thinking about how badly that could have gone.

By the way, helmets rock.

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The fish that helped Nemo?

What're you looking at shark bait?

I was at an aquarium ten days ago. As a divemaster and budding conservationist, I feel sad when I see animals in pens. At the same time, I recognize the greater good and love watching people — in particular small children — get excited by things they may never otherwise experience.

Which is why I got such a kick out of hearing a little girl at the aquarium describe a pennant coralfish, as “the fish that helped Nemo” to her mother.

Mom didn’t get it and gave her daughter a quizzical look; I kneeled down, tried not be creepy and engaged the six-year-old.

I explained that the fish in the tank were also called longfin bannerfish and rarely do you see them alone and sometimes they school by the dozens. Then I explained about scuba diving and how cool the ocean is.

Thankfully, Mom didn’t accuse me of trying to steal her daughter.

For the record, I believe Gill (of Pixar fame) technically was a moorish idol, a very similar looking fish.

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Corporate population control hilarity

I spend a lot of my days in grad school debating whether population is a disaster waiting to happen and whether we need moral restraint or mutually agreed upon coercion. Which is the dominant variable in affecting environmental impact: population, affluence or technology?

(Hint: In my world view, it’s not exactly any of those three, but a related yet different issue: consumption.)

But all such debates tend to be repetitive, theoretical and mind-numbing. So, for laughs, here’s a different, ridiculous take on the so called population problem.

Let’s be clear that it absolutely misses any mark regarding how to solve the biggest global problem of our time. Indeed, the message is highly flawed and simplistic; too many Indians knocking boots is not the problem, and consumption of increasing forms of technology by the affluent is certainly not the solution.

And yes, this is just a corporate marketing ploy. But, again, in the category of hilarity to defuse the tension, I give it five stars. That my Hindi has improved enough to get some of the jokes is even better.

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What’s the value to a healthy reef?

How much would you pay?

My first (short) paper of graduate school is due Wednesday. I am valuing an environmental amenity. Not surprisingly, I’ve chosen coral reefs. And specifically, the coral reefs of Havelock.

Above, we see a somewhat healthy reef at South Button. What’s its value? For fishing? For tourism and recreation? For biodiversity? For coastal protection?

Does it have intrinsic value, beyond any use or option-to-use value?

And just how do we determine these values? What methods or metrics?

These are the questions I’m answering in my paper at present.

And must everything be translated into dollar amounts? (Short, unfortunate but practical answer to that last question is yes, if we’re going to make policy recommendations for preservation.)

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Wart slug on ailing reef…

The reef be dying...

Reefs the world over are suffering, as warming water (and possibly other factors) disrupt their productive symbiosis with a specific protozoa, zooxanthella. Each relies on the other for nutrients and energy, and the protozoa also give hard coral blocks their color.

But when this is cycle is disrupted — again, mostly my warming waters due to global warming but also acidification — the corals can’t maintain this balance and typically expel their zooxanthellae. This leads to a bleached — white or light colored — reef, which is my experience is typically then recovered by a different algae, like we see above.

This whole imbalance also typically wipes out other sensitive populations. For example, in the Andamans, the fast-evolving delicate nudibranchs have all but disappeared according to environmentalists and the dive community. When I was diving there, only the varicose wart slugs (above) were left.

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Kale chips ahoy!

Super(snack)food

A week-and-a-half ago, I found a two pound bag of kale for $2.50 at my grocer. That made for good kale stir fry and soup. But as I’ve raved about kale, everyone keeps telling me to bake up kale chips.

So this afternoon, while trying to wade through grad school reading, I also tossed the remainder of my kale bag in oil, shook on some Old Bay and they’re baking away as I type.

Timer just beeped. Now for the tasting.

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Britney Spears ain’t got jack on this guy…

Toxic

Toxic but beautiful lionfish.

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