Editor's note: Thank you for your interest in this app. Unfortunately, it is no longer available. Amazing Ocean is a brand new, free mobile app developed by the U.S. Department of State that features Smithsonian Ocean Portal and Sant Ocean Hall content. The app allows users to explore photos, videos, and rich ocean-themed content on their mobile devices. Amazing Ocean is a pilot project of the State Department/Smithsonian partnership and combines some of the best assets of both organizations: the unique and robust research and collections of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural...
Tags: Ocean Portal
Monodontids, the group of whales that includes the belugas and narwhals swimming our ocean today, are emblematic symbols of the Arctic. However, their fossil record, although scarce, suggests that these animals' ranges could have been much broader. Fossil monodontids have been previously found in late Miocene deposits in Baja California, Mexico, the early Pliocene of Belgium and the eastern coast of North America. Now, in this month’s issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology , Nick Pyenson and I describe a new species of fossil monodontid from early Pliocene deposits (around 3-4...
Sirenians , or seacows, are a group of marine mammals that include manatees and dugongs. In the modern ocean, only one species of seacow is found in each world region, however, the fossil record tells a different story. According to the fossil record of these marine mammals, which dates back 50 million years ago, it was more common to find three, maybe more, different species living together at one time. This oddity hinted that seacows’ environment and food sources were different than what we see today. Inspired by this finding, a group of paleontologists including Drs. Daryl Domning , Nick...
There is of course, no such thing as the perfect photograph, as there is no perfect song, movie, or painting. Photography by its very nature is subjective and what appeals to one viewer may not interest another. There are photographic elements however, that have been proven to make images better, especially things like exposure and composition. Photos that are over- or under-exposed are generally not pleasing to the eye, and composition tends to be more interesting when artistic styles such as the rule of thirds are followed (placing a key subject off center within the frame at the place...
What does a bioluminescent creature that lives more than two miles below the surface of the ocean and a glow stick have in common? More than you think. In a unique spin on an art technique called "light painting," you can create your own bioluminescent organisms with glow sticks in your classroom or home. CREDIT: Flickr User nickel.media BIOLUMINESCENCE, THE BASICS Bioluminescence is a natural chemical process that produces light within the cells of an organism. The light produced is typically blue, though there are a few species that produce red light . While rare on land, bioluminescence is...
“It is strange to think of a sea turtle as an ecosystem,” says Amanda Feuerstein, program coordinator and research assistant at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, “but they are…they have all of these other animals living on their skin and shells.” Feuerstein is co-author of a recent survey documenting the crustaceans, mollusks, algae, and other marine organisms that make a home on the bodies of olive ridley and green sea turtles living in the Pacific. For three years—2001, 2002, and 2008—on Teopa Beach in Jalisco, Mexico , Feuerstein and colleagues examined the shell, neck...
Lying in water only a foot deep, I watched the shark meander lazily through the mangrove, already exuding the confidence inherent of the supreme creature within its domain. It was hot here in Bimini, nearly 100-degrees and mosquitoes were thick and relentless, swarming on to any bare skin. Yet slipping my head just inches below the water’s surface I had entered another realm. I was absolutely transfixed watching these little sharks, perhaps 12 to 18 inches long; swimming beneath mangrove roots and over the muddy bottom with impressive deftness. It was a shark scene quite unlike any others I...
Have you ever gone to your favorite coastal or lakeside beach and instead of having a fun day in the sun you were faced with a trove of trash? How heartbreaking it is to see waters and shorelines littered with items that you have at home, that maybe you’ve even recently thrown away. Encountering ocean trash on the beach has become more common. According to the Ocean Conservancy's Trash Travels report , International Coastal Cleanup volunteers collected 4,253,650 pounds of trash along an estimated 9,151 miles of coastal and inland shorelines in the United States in 2009. That equates to about...
The evolution of whales represents one of the great stories in macroevolution. It's a narrative that has mostly benefitted from an extraordinary series of fossils recovered from rocks around the world, including challenging field areas in Egypt, Pakistan, and India. Over the past 30 years, the diligent work of many paleontologists has revealed a sequence of evolutionary transformations, between ~52 to 40 million years ago, which illuminate how the ancestors of today's whales adapted to life in the water from their terrestrial ancestors. Interestingly, the near entirety of the fossil record of...
At a recent staff meeting a Smithsonian colleague mentioned that one of his pastimes this summer has been keeping tabs on the Arctic sea ice. The question that's on many Arctic-watchers' minds is whether or not the 2011 sea ice coverage will reach a new record low. The National Snow and Ice Data Center collects and provides much of the information on Arctic sea ice. One of the main numbers they report is the "sea ice extent." It's a figure that's been measured since 1979. This week NSIDC reported that, "If ice stopped declining in extent today it would be the second-lowest minimum extent in...
Tags: Arctic