Wednesday, October 17, 2007

But if they made bioluminescent lipstick...

The world is full of crazy critters!


Like so many people who read Jaws as a kid, I have a big soft spot for marine biology. I'm particularly fond of the cephalopods. The story, however, reminds me of the other day when they ran the dramatic story about how our lipsticks might be dangerous. Hundreds of common lipsticks have been tested and contain lead! My reaction was, uh, is there a list? Where can I go to see the results of the study? Might be important if I have a killer in my handbag.

In this case, I was thinking, this is a nice little blurb about this expedition I haven't heard of. But if you want more content, not only doesn't the media give it to you, it doesn't give you much to go on to find it yourself. Fortunately, I'm an excellent searcher.

The real website of the organization (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution at is also a little publicity-heavy for my taste, but I guess that's what works. But I was able to go into the expedition page and find out more info about that cute little jellyfish:

"This lovely red medusa, Atolla gigantea, about 15 cm in diameter, was collected in midwater by the ROV and photographed in the bigger kreisel. When a species like this is caught with a net, the soft gelatinous tissue is shredded by the net fabric or squashed by other captured animals and the tentacles are torn off. This beautiful red color is common among mesopelagic “jellies” because it isn’t visible in the perpetually dark water, yet it masks any bioluminescence emitted by prey inside the pigmented predator’s gut. Image courtesy of 2007: Exploring the Inner Space of the Celebes Sea."

Now that's a caption! I've actually always thought that the bioluminescence, while very, very cool-looking (the disco balls of the sea?), might have negative consequences. The revenge of the eaten?

(For those of you who can't read my mind, at the aquarium in Chicago they have some totally clear, see-through jellyfish, and they'll each have a shrimp glowing in the middle of them. Freaky looking).

Anyway...usually in these cases, it's obvious that it would have taken almost no work on their part to give us a little extra "for more info" link. I can't be the last person in the world who'll read something and want to know more about it. Even in America.

In a related question: when people (for convenience, let's include individuals, organizations, the news media, anybody really) have communication problems...and there are so many of people not really want to communicate, or don't they know how? How do we tell the difference?

Uh oh, I'm veering into the sociology of everyday life again. Better to think about jellyfish! Hmm, maybe that's my "power animal."

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