Science Friday: Sea Creatures

Whether they're studying a vampire squid drifting through the oxygen-minimum zone, or a blue whale rolling to catch krill, the marine biologists in this series of videos from Science Friday are using innovative technology and approaches to learn more about the ocean's marine fauna. Underwater ROV's, 3D printing, MRI's, and critter cams are just some of the tools used by these passionate and curious scientists!

  • No Strain, No Gain: Filter Feeding Mantas

    Effortlessly, manta rays glide through the ocean gulping down plankton and fish eggs by the mouthful. However, until recently, it wasn't clear how they managed to do so without clogging the filters that surround their gills. Marine biologist and biomechanist, Dr. Misty Paig-Tran details her research into these graceful giants and reveals the multiple methods of filtration they use to sift a meal from the water.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Flash of the Disco Clam

    Flaunting frilly tentacles and a curious ability to reflect light, these tiny aquatic anomalies are reminiscent of the flashy disco balls and shag carpets of the '70s. Biologist Lindsey Dougherty of UC Berkley investigates the aptly dubbed, "Disco Clam," revealing the molecular foundation for how they get so groovy.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Oarfish: The Ultimate Fish Tale

    Thought to be the inspiration of sea serpent stories, the monstrously long oarfish provokes wonder in nearly all who witness it. Yet despite our fascination, little is known about this fish, its lifecycle, and how it navigates its deep sea environment. With the help of a frozen specimen, CalState assistant professor Misty Paig-Tran provides us with a biomechanist’s insight into the physiology of this real-life sea monster.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Caring for Cuttlefish

    Raising cuttlefish in captivity from fragile eggs to full-grown predators can present daunting challenges for an aquarium. In order to ensure they have cuttlefish to exhibit, the Monterey Bay Aquarium's staff takes extra measures to provide these complex cephalopods a helping hand. Using recycled soda bottles, modified cradles, and knowledge of each species' husbandry, Aquarium staff have nurtured to adulthood 95% of the cuttlefish spawned.

    Grades: 6-12
  • The Vampire Squid

    While crimson skin and glowing eyes support its title, deep sea ecologists like Bruce Robinson of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute have come to see the vampire squid as the antithesis of a bloodsucking predator. In fact, researchers have discovered that Vampyroteuthis infernalis is actually a gentle steward of the ocean's depths, gracefully foraging on marine detritus.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Blue Whale Barrel Roll

    Blue whales can grow to 90 feet—that's longer than a tennis court. Getting that big requires a lot of fuel, says Jeremy Goldbogen, a postdoctoral researcher at the Cascadia Research Collective. That's why Goldbogen studies the whales' dining habits. They feed on krill, slurping in millions of the mini crustaceans along with hundreds of thousands of pounds of water in a single gulp. With the help of data tags and a National Geographic Crittercam, Goldbogen and colleagues found that blue whales do underwater acrobatics while they eat—specifically a move they coined "the blue whale barrel roll."

    Grades: 6-12

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