Publish by: Brian Skerry - Dec 19, 2011
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...
Flickr User nickel.media
Publish by: Catherine - Nov 21, 2011
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...
Alejandro Peña de Niz
Publish by: John Barrat - Nov 8, 2011
“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...
Publish by: Brian Skerry - Oct 13, 2011
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...
Publish by: Catherine - Sep 15, 2011
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...
Publish by: Nicholas D. Pyenson - Sep 12, 2011
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...
National Snow and Ice Data Center
Publish by: Tina Tennessen - Sep 8, 2011
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...
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Publish by: John Barrat - Sep 1, 2011
Alaska’s pristine coastline is ripe for an influx of invasive marine species such as the European green crab and the rough periwinkle (an Atlantic sea snail), warns a new study by a team of scientists from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center . To date only 15 non-native species are known to have established themselves along Alaska’s Pacific coastline—as compared to more than 250 invasive marine species that now call California home—but this could easily change with warming temperatures and increased human activity in this region, the scientists warn. The idea that the colder...
United States Geological Survey
Publish by: Maggy Hunter Benson - Aug 25, 2011
It isn’t everyday that a magnitude 5.8 earthquake strikes the East Coast of the United States . But on August 23, 2011, people from Georgia to New England felt the rumble and shaking of an earthquake whose epicenter was in Mineral, Va. The East Coast is historically a low risk zone. What exactly happened and how might educators use this event in the classroom? First, take a look at an interview in Smithsonian Magazine with Dr. Elizabeth Cottrell, a geologist with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History who puts the Virginia earthquake into context , explaining why it was felt over...
Publish by: Johnny Gibbons - Aug 17, 2011
Scientists at the Smithsonian and partnering organizations have discovered a remarkably primitive eel in a fringing reef off the coast of the Republic of Palau . This fish exhibits many primitive anatomical features unknown in the other 19 families and more than 800 species of living eels, resulting in its classification as a new species belonging to a new genus and family. The team’s research is published online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Aug. 17 . Many of the physical features of this new genus and species of eel, Protanguilla palau , reflect its relationship to the 19...