Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Slight update...

Hi y'all. Things have been busy here. K just finished teaching / running experiments and I am in the tangles of collecting the last data for a paper. In the meantime, we have been checking out the best bread puddings the island has to offer (thanks Honolulu weekly's article) . So far we have tried "European with a twist" and "The best of both worlds". The Grand Cafe and Bakery (B of BW), by the way, has an excellent outdoor patio where we also enjoyed smoked salmon and regular eggs benedict, the best corned beef hash since Ghini's in Tucson, and apple banana french toast with vanilla gellato. I am drooling just thinking about it now.

What else, oh yeah, I am seriously considering buying everyone this for Christmas. After all, who wouldn't want a deed to a piece of an island that may or may not break the surface of the ocean in the next 10,000 years?!? (Mahalo, Meg, for this article!)

Well, I am off to go collect slipper lobsters today. And by collect, I mean I need to go meet a guy from NOAA who will present one to me in a wet cardboard box. What fun!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Who needs men? Not sharks!

Hawaiian waters are full of hammerhead sharks. One of the guys we play frisbee with even studies their electromagnetic sensing capabilities. And now, researchers have discovered that female hammerheads can reproduce asexually through parthenogenesis.

The last line of the article reads:
“I would be concerned about a lot of other things than whether or not a female shark can get a date for an evening."

It makes me giggle to think about sharks looking for dates.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Attack of the killer jellies!

Eight to ten days after the full moon, box jellyfish descend upon Oahu's beaches, threatening Hanauma Bay and Waikiki tourists with their stinging nematocysts. One species, the sea wasp (Chironex fleckeri), is:

"claimed to be the most venomous marine animal known," according to the Australian Institute of Marine Science. They state that it causes excruciating pain to humans, often followed by death, sometimes within two or three minutes, and that the chance of survival if stung while swimming alone is "virtually zero."

The body of Chironex is the size of a basketball.

Luckily, here in Hawaii, we have the Carybdea alata and Carybdea rastonii species. They're not so big (less than 6") and not so bad (only cause anaphylactic shock in the lucky individuals allergic to their venom) as their relatives in Australia. One of the ladies in my department, Angel Yanagihara studies their venom and goes on regular collection trips in the middle of the special "8th night".

I would also like to comment about the figure the author of the Wikipedia article chose for the box jellyfish. It is a drawing by Ernst Haeckel, my new favorite scientific rebel who apparently made up some data to support his pet hypotheses. A case of artistic license, maybe? Some of his famous "fakes" were included in the embryo drawings, shown here in Romanes's 1892 version where the background has been changed to white from black:

He later admited that 6-8% of the images may have been "falsified" (translated).

Tomorrow, we plan on going to the North shore to snorkel Shark's Cove. The jellyfish are not so prevalent up there, so we should be fine. I am more worried about riding up there on the back of Megan's motorcycle. An hour and a half on a cruiser. I can't wait...

Friday, May 04, 2007

The quaking ground

Friday fun facts!!!, by Caroline

The Big Island has had three earthquakes this week, two at 3.5, and today's at 2.1. No tsunamis have formed, but I have a feeling a bigger earthquake may be coming soon. The Hawaii Electric Company (HECO) has replaced their ill-fated mercury containing switches, with new ones so our electricity should fortunately not magically disappear during the next earthquake. Note to engineers: do not place a movable liquid in a switch when the liquid may move from the shaking of the ground.

And did you know, "The brain is the only organ that hates crime"? I love Achewood.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The end of an era...

The Maui Land & Pineapple company, the last exporter of canned Hawaiian pineapple, is ending its operations on June 30. This marks the end of 100 years of canned pineapple exports from the state of Hawaii. The loss of the cannery is, "is a victim of cheaper overseas producers" like Costa Rica, Mexico, and Ecuador. Moreover, it marks the decidely necessary, but disappointingly bitter shift from Hawaii's agriculutural heritage to one of land developers and tourist dollars. Aloha, canned pineapples!

Don't worry, though, Hawaii still exports fresh pineapples! For now, anyways.

Read more at the Honolulu Adverstiser.

p.s. Did you know pineapples grew on the ground in these crazy agave-like configurations? I always thought they grew on trees until I moved here!