The Underwater Vacuum Cleaners

By Anupum Pant

If you didn’t know, most white sand you see on some beaches around the world, has at some point in time, passed through a fish called the parrot fish. It’s an amazing ecological role the parrot fish plays.

An interestingly similar ecological role is served by a marine animal with a very leathery skin called the sea cucumber. Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg explains why these organisms have such an important role in the marine environment.

Basically, while scavenging for algae or minute aquatic animals, sea cucumbers ingest a lot of sand. As it passes through their bodies, the digestive system increases the pH of the sand, making it more basic. When this comes out, the sand is clean and turned basic. This way it plays a chief role in countering the negative effects of ocean acidification.

It also helps coral reefs survive by supplying them with calcium carbonate (a by product of its digestion process) and helping them maintain a net inflow of calcium carbonate.

The ammonia that comes out also makes the bed more fertile, making it much more suitable for coral reefs to grow.

Watch these underwater vacuum cleaners in action below.

Bizarre Starfish Wasting Syndrome

By Anupum Pant

Up in the Washington state a videographer and also a diver, Laura James noticed a couple of  dead Starfish on the coast one day. The dead bodies looked like something mysterious had happened. There were broken bodies and splats all over the place as if the fish had been zapped by a laser.

Laura videographed some of the tens of thousands of starfish bodies all over the north america’s pacific coast. No one was sure what was actually happening. And then there were reports of these mysterious starfish deaths from all over the west coast of North America.

For some time, only the sunflower starfish were thought to be affected by this. However, on further investigation, it was found that almost 12 different species of starfish were dying mysteriously all over the west coast (and some on the east coast too). When this was confirmed to be an epidemic of some sort, they started calling it the sea star wasting syndrome and notified the scientists.

Ben minor, a western Washington university professor of biology started collecting sea stars at the coast. They found a number of normal sea stars. Later when the search continued a pile of sea star arms and twisted parts of them were found at different places. Some of the live starfish were collected and were studied in the laboratory.

It was confirmed that the starfish which were affected by this epidemic experienced twisting arms and lesions first and then the arms crawled away in different directions, tearing the body of a starfish apart. All of it in under 24 hours. This bizarre disease then left a spill of inside parts of the fish and broken body parts all over the place.

No one knows for sure what causes this bizarre disease among the sea stars.

Sad Story of The Lonely Whale – 52 Hertz

By Anupum Pant

Background Story

In the year 1989, a navy technician Joseph George, discovered something mysterious. While looking for enemy submarines in the sea by detecting sound signals, Joseph noticed that there was a mysterious lone sound which stood out in the acoustic signal. From his years of experience as an acoustic analyst, Joseph knew that this sound wasn’t coming from a submarine. As predicted, no enemy ships or submarines were found on further examination.

The sound was a deep pulsing wave and was incredibly loud. It seemed as if it were coming from a machine. But he was certain that this wasn’t a mechanical machine which was making the sound. There was something biological about it. So Joseph decided to call an experienced marine biologist to find out what was making that sound. The researcher confirmed that it was a whale! But not a normal whale…

Did you know?
Whale vomit can make you rich.
and Whale fat is a very healthy thing to eat.

The Twist

If this was really a whale, it still confused the marine biologist because first, the sound was coming from an awkward path. Since whales travel together in a regular migratory path, this wasn’t coming from any of those paths. Also, it was a lone sound.

Secondly, the frequency of sound that was detected was measured to be 52 hertz, and no species of whales were known to make that kind of sound. Usually whales create a sound with a frequency that lies between 15 to 20 hertz. This was definitely not any known species of whale. Or even if it was among any of the known species, it was calling out the wrong note. A note, probably no other whale could hear.

So, for obvious reasons, even when the loud bass was heard for several times, no response by other whales was detected. This was awkward because whales usually respond to the members of their groups. They talk. It was concluded that this whale was travelling alone. No one knew why.

Studies and Theories

In the 13 years of study that ensued, the whale (or whatever it was) was never seen, nor was a response to its song was noted. Scientists started calling it the 52 hertz whale. They could never figure out why the whale sang in a different voice or even an answer to why it was alone, travelling on a completely different path.

Scientists have tried to explain this, but there has never been a solid answer that explains the lonely nature of the creature. To explain the loneliness, some say that the 52 hertz’s voice can’t be heard by other whales, others say that it can’t hear the other whales. Some say that the other whales are scared to respond or go near an unusual voice. Other theories say that the whale must be a hybrid of two different species of whales and that is the reason it sounds so different. What is the real deal, no one knows.

Stories Documentaries and Poems

The 52-hertz whale started having a huge fan following in the late 2000s. A 90 minute documentary was made. However, I couldn’t find it anywhere. Poems were written. Blogs and statuses were written and people sounded touched & concerned. They wanted to extend help to the lonely whale in some way.

lonely whale response

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