Wait! Don’t touch that! It’s not a toy. It’s a living thing.
Researchers aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus were scanning
the seafloor off the coast of California using an unmanned
submarine when they spotted a purple thing that caused them to
laugh with amusement.
“It looks so fake,” one researcher said. “It looks like some
little kid dropped their toy.” (Watch and listen in the first video
player on this page.)
They maneuvered the remotely operated vehicle Hercules closer
and continued to laugh at the creature with eyes that looked glued
on. Later, as the video went viral, this purple cephalopod — a
class that includes squid, octopus and cuttlefish — became known to
many people as the “googly eyed squid.” Since Aug. 12, more than
2.5 million viewers have clicked on the video.
This species, Rossia pacifica, is known to Puget Sound divers as
the stubby squid or sometimes the bobtail squid, but it is not a
true squid. See The Cephalopod Page
by James Wood to understand the relationship among family
This particular stubby squid was seen in early August on the
seafloor about 2,950 feet deep off the California Coast. They can
be found from throughout the North Pacific south to Southern
California. They are found at many depths from coastal waters to
The second video shows a bobtail squid spotted from the EV
Nautilus in August of 2014, and the third shows a flapjack octopus
from August of 2015.
Roland Anderson of Seattle Aquarium described early surveys in
Puget Sound, where stubby squids were found in muddy sand at 11
sites between Seattle and Tacoma, including Elliott and
Commencement bays. Check out
“Field Aspects of the Sepiolid Squid.” (PDF 3.3 mb)
In a piece on “The Cephalopod
Page,” Anderson writes, “One surprising thing recently learned
about stubby squid is that they are found in polluted urban bays
with highly polluted bottom sediments, such as the inner harbors of
Seattle and Tacoma.
“There may be several reasons they can survive there. Deposition
from rivers maybe capping polluted sediments. Their short life
spans (just two years from eggs) may not allow them to absorb a
significant amount of pollutants from the sediments. Another
survival factor may be the stubby squid’s ability to produce
copious quantities of mucus, which may protect it from the
sediments like a thick Jello jacket.”
Reporter Stefan Sirucek of
National Geographic News interviewed Michael Vecchione, a
cephalopod expert at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural
“It’s not an uncommon species,” he said. “They get all the way
from scuba-diving depths down into the deep sea. If that is all one
species, then it’s pretty broadly distributed.”
Vecchione said large eyes are fairly common among deep-see
“They are funny-looking eyes, but I’ve seen other species of
this genus that had eyes that looked very similar,” he said.
“People were actually asking whether those eyes were photo-shopped
in to make it look more like a cartoon or something. No, those are
the real eyes. That’s what they look like.”
In low light, the big eyes help them hunt for crustaceans and
avoid predators. In either case, the strategy is to remain still so
other animals don’t notice it there, which can make it look like a
“My guess is it was probably frozen because of this big machine
that was brightly lit up in front of it,” Vecchione said in the
interview. “So it was trying not to be seen, basically.”
I have trouble balancing on a log that is lying flat on the
ground, so standing on a floating log seems like an impossible
feat. I guess that’s why I’m impressed with the old-fashioned sport
of log rolling, an activity that is catching on across the
I have always been amused by log rolling, but I realize that
this is very serious activity, comparable to Olympic sports for
many people. The first video on this page shows the skill of
professionals, while the last one offers a bit of silliness in the
world of commercial television.
Log rolling was once a sport of lumberjacks, since walking on
floating logs was part of the job for many. But now the activity
seems to be attracting all ages of boys and girls, who enjoy the
challenge of balancing as well as getting soaked in the process — a
nice hot-weather sport. Some folks really are pushing to get log
rolling approved for an upcoming summer Olympics.
One of the sport’s many supporters is Pat Foster, director of
Camp Corey on Keuka Lake near
Rochester, NY. For three years, the summer camp has been offering
classes in log rolling using a special training log created by
Rolling, a family-owned business in Golden Valley, Minn. In the
second video on this page, Jennifer Johnson, a reporter for WUHF-TV
in Rochester interviews Foster then goes for a spin on the log
“Tug of War was in the Olympics until 1920,” Caple writes.
“There are movements to get squash, ballroom dance and chess in the
Olympics, as well as log-rolling. Yes, log-rolling. While I would
much rather see baseball back in the Olympics, I definitely would
choose log-rolling over ballroom dance or chess.”
For information about the sport, Caple calls on Abby Hoeschler,
a champion log-roller and instructor who plays a leading role in
the family business.
“It’s such an intense sport; it’s a sparring sport,” Hoeschler
said. “You’re on this log in the water with an opponent, and you
can’t touch them. There’s a center line you can’t cross. It’s sort
of like boxing with your feet.
“You’re doing maneuvers to dislodge your opponent. As a female,
there aren’t many opportunities where you can compete in sports
that are intense like that. You step on the log, and if you make
one wrong move, you’ve lost.”
Jeff Ozimek, outdoor program manager for Bainbridge Island Metro
Park and Recreation District, got involved in log rolling while he
attended college at the University of Montana in Missoula.
The competition, loosely associated with the College of
Forestry, involved all the lumberjack sports — from pole-climbing
to crosscut sawing to axe-throwing. Jeff says these logging-type
sports help people to celebrate the history of the Northwest. Check
out the video of the 2015 Montana log
rolling competition, also called Birling.
When I told Jeff about how kids could learn to do log rolling by
using the training fins on the Key Log, he was impressed, recalling
how difficult it is to stay on a log the first few times. He said
he would look into the Key Log and would like to know if local
residents would be interesting in classes or activities around log
rolling. Email him with your interest and ideas, email@example.com.
I was reading about all the logging-related events at Crosby
Days this past weekend and wanted to know if anyone had ever
considered holding a log-rolling competition. (See Tristan
Baurick’s story in the
“Actually, my husband was talking about that this year, but we
didn’t have time to get it going,” said Jessica Dukes, secretary of
the Crosby Community Club and an organizer of Crosby Days. “It is
something we want to consider for next year.”
Competitions in log rolling are held throughout the country by
Log Rolling Association, but the only event I could find in
Washington state was this past weekend in Morton. I think an event
that brings in skilled log-rollers would be popular, all the more
so if kids could get involved.
Although adults should have an advantage in log rolling because
of their weight, it appears that many kids can hold their own
against their parents, especially in the beginning when both are
The winning photo shows a bald eagle swooping down on a great
blue heron at the mouth of Big Beef Creek near Seabeck. Bonnie, a
resident of Kingston, learned that her dramatic photo had been
chosen from among 7,000 entries from all 50 states and numerous
Big Beef Creek, not far from my home, is a favorite place for
nature photographers and bird watchers, who visit in spring and
early summer to observe eagles in action. That’s when the birds
come to hunt for fish called midshipman before heading out to find
migrating salmon. My wife Sue once counted 58 eagles at one time in
that location. See
Water Ways, June 18, 2010.
Bonnie describes how she prepared to shoot the critical moment
in a story by reporter Christian Vosler published in the
Kitsap Sun July 30.
Bonnie’s photo was mentioned during a
CBS News interview with Melissa Groo, last year’s winner and a
judge in this year’s contest. Melissa said a good photograph
“freezes that instant that you can’t even see through the naked eye
sometimes. Sometimes this behavior happens in a split second, but a
photograph captures that unique moment for all of us to see.”
“Which is exactly what this year’s Grand Prize winner is,”
commented reporter Brian Mastroianni. “I mean, the shot of the
eagle and the heron is pretty incredible.”
“Exactly,” Melissa continued. “It’s that kind of confrontation,
that pivotal moment where the eagle is landing and its wings are
completely spread out, and you are seeing, obviously, some kind of
confrontation. It’s just beautifully captured, technically and
A selection of Bonnie’s best photographs are on display this
month at Liberty Bay
Gallery in Poulsbo. You can also see some photos she has posted
on her Facebook
Other winners in the Audubon Photography Contest are shown
below. Comments from the photographers themselves about their work
as well as other photos can be found on
The American Kitefliers
Association has organized daily “mass ascensions,” in which at
least 100 kites of the same style take to the skies. Sport kite
competitions involve kites flying in intricate patterns or dancing
“It’s quite a rainbow of expression,” John Barresi. editor of
Kite Life magazine, told
reporter Terri Gleich in a story published July 22 in the
“Part of my world,” John said, “is sharing kites with people who
say, ‘Oh yeah, I remember I tried to fly a kite and I couldn’t.’ A
kite that is well made will fly itself. People will be amazed at
how easy it can be.”
The videos on this page give you an idea of the diversity of the
kites. Miniature kites — some as small as one inch — can be viewed
up close, and nobody can miss the giant kites, which can be up to
20 feet wide and 100 feet long. The precision and art of
construction is part of the show.
Fighting kites involve the traditional Japanese Rokkaku kites,
which are six-sided and designed for quick response, as well as
smaller fighter kites. In battle, the goal is to disable an
opposing kite or cut its string with abrasive line.
Promotional materials for this year’s festival mention indoor
kites that can be flown without any wind at all. Download the
program (PDF 10.8 mb) for details about the weeklong
An amazing number of kite festivals are held each year
throughout the country. For a complete schedule with links to the
various festivals, see Event
Calendar on the American Kitefliers Association website.
Once in a while, a video shows up featuring some amazing
phenomena not well known by most people. This is the case with a
YouTube video by
Mind Warehouse called “Ten Ocean Phenomena You Won’t Believe
I’ve featured several of the phenomena you’ll see in this video
from my “Amusing Monday” series, but I admit that I did not know
that some of these things even exist — and at least one photo
appears to be a hoax that fooled the producers of the video on this
I’ve searched out a little more about each of the phenomena with
links if you would like to learn more about any of these strange
Thousands of self-cloned animals called tunicates occasionally
come together to form a giant hollow tube that may grow to 60 feet
long, according to Oceana’s
Ocean Animal Encyclopedia. Giant pyrosomes are bioluminescent,
producing their own light.
Because the tunicates can reproduce by cloning, the colony can
regenerate its damaged parts to keep the tube intact. The tunicates
that form pyrosomes are related to those found in the Salish Sea.
Check out Emerald Diving’s
In 1995, divers discovered what looked like strange “crop
circles” like those reported in farm fields, but these were on the
ocean bottom near Japan. Other circles were found, but it took a
decade before it was determined that male pufferfish make the
circles as part of a mating ritual.
“When the circles are finished, females come to inspect them,”
according to an article in LiveScience
by Douglas Main. “If they like what they see, they reproduce with
the males, said Hiroshi Kawase, the curator of the Coastal Branch
of Natural History Museum and Institute in Chiba, Japan. But nobody
knows exactly what the females are looking for in these circles or
what traits they find desirable, Kawase told LiveScience.”
Most icebergs are white, but all sorts of blue-striped icebergs
can be found in nature. They are the result of water filling a
crevice and freezing so fast that no bubbles form. Green stripes
form when algae-rich water freezes. Brown, yellow and black are the
result of sediments being picked up by the water before it freezes.
See undocumented photos and story by Mihai Andrei in
Red tides can be found all over the world. Although “red tide”
is a term often associated with poisonous plankton, many of the
orange and red tides do not produce toxins harmful to people or
In Puget Sound, blooms of a dinoflagellate called Noctiluca
sometimes create what appear to be works of art, as I described in
Water Ways in June of 2013.Eyes Over
Puget Sound, a program that monitors surface conditions,
frequently presents pictures of colorful algae blooms, including a
new edition published this morning.
One of the strongest whirlpools in the world is at Saltstraumen,
a fjord in Norway where a massive exchange of water rushes through
an opening just 500 feet wide. Review the video “Deepest Hole in the
When salt-rich water streams into the sea, it can form an
underwater finger of ice called a brinicle, sometimes referred to
as “the ice finger of death.” The super-cooled briny water is
colder than the surrounding sea, so the stream reaches out and
freezes as it goes. See the article by Douglas Main in LiveScience
or check out the blog post in
Water Ways from November 2011.
When big waves come together at sea, the result is often a giant
wave large enough to wreck an ocean-going ship or rush to shore
with tremendous force. In January of this year, a killer wave —
also known as a rogue wave — was recorded along the Pacific Coast
in Grays Harbor County at a stream called Joe Creek. See
Q-13 TV video “Rogue Wave …”
When the air is considerably colder than a calm sea or lake, ice
crystal can be extruded above the surface to form structures that
resemble flowers. This occurs when water vapor sublimes from thin
surface ice into the air without passing through the liquid phase.
The warm moist air at the surface of the ice rises and quickly
freezes in the colder air above.
Conditions leading to frost flowers often occur in the polar
regions as new sea ice forms. Once the ice grows a little thicker,
the surface cools down and the temperature difference between the
ice and atmosphere are too close for the vapor to rise and then
Robert Krulwich, who hosted a science show for
National Public Radio, discussed the phenomenon from the point
of view of Jeff Bowman, a University of Washington graduate student
in 2009 when he spotted frost flowers on his way back from an
expedition to the Arctic.
Baltic and North sea meeting point
In the Mind Warehouse video, the narrator discusses a bunch of
pictures purportedly showing the meeting point of the Baltic and
North seas. I have been unable to track down all these photos or
confirm that any of them were taken at the convergence zone of the
Baltic and North seas.
One of the photos appears to have been taken in Alaska, showing
the melt water from a glacier converging with ocean water. As in
Puget Sound, the lower-density freshwater tends to form a layer
over the salty seawater. See
Kent Smith’s photo, taken from a cruise ship, and a story about
research by the U.S.
Geological Survey taken in the Gulf of Alaska.
It’s amusing to see all the myth-versus-fact posts on various
Internet sites regarding the question of whether waters from the
Baltic Sea actually mix with waters from the North Sea. (Search for
“Baltic and North sea mixing.”) I gave up trying to find credible
photos, but there exists an actual phenomenon regarding the mixing
of the two seas. Wikipedia provides
“The Baltic Sea flows out through the Danish straits;
however, the flow is complex. A surface layer of brackish water
discharges 940 km3 (230 cu mi) per year into the North Sea. Due to
the difference in salinity, by salinity permeation principle, a
sub-surface layer of more saline water moving in the opposite
direction brings in 475 km3 (114 cu mi) per year. It mixes very
slowly with the upper waters, resulting in a salinity gradient from
top to bottom, with most of the salt water remaining below 40 to 70
m (130 to 230 ft) deep. The general circulation is anti-clockwise:
northwards along its eastern boundary, and south along the western
Living organisms can be seen to glow during a chemical reaction
that involves a light-emitting pigment and an enzyme that serves as
a catalyst for the reaction. Depending on the species,
bioluminescence may be used to escape from prey, attract prey or
signal for a mate. Sometimes researchers can’t tell why an animal
has the ability to light up. One of the best write-ups I’ve seen is
Last fall, I featured in
“Amusing Monday” a tiny creature called a sea sapphire that
flashes brilliant hues of green, blue and purple then seems to
disappear before your eyes. The organism is a copepod that is able
to shift its plates to adjust the wavelength of light reflected
from crystals underneath. When the reflected light is shifted far
enough into the ultraviolet, the little animals nearly
A couple years ago, I was intrigued that a number of young women
were making a living as professional mermaids. (See
Water Ways, Jan. 27, 2014). Since then, the idea of becoming a
mermaid for a day, a week or longer has caught on, with mermaid
schools opening throughout the world.
Resort and Spa in the Philippines claims to be the first
mermaid school in the world, but others were soon behind.
In New York, World of Swimming, a nonprofit corporation,
inspires young people to become swimmers through lessons, swimming
camps and other activities.
The first short video on this page features young mermaid
swimmers accompanied by music as they swim about by swishing their
tails. In the second video (also below), ABC News reporter Sara
Haines takes the plunge in a first-person report to see what it is
like to become a mermaid. The piece made the airwaves on
Good Morning America.
In Vermont, reporter Sarah Tuff Dunn goes to mermaid school for
the online publication
“Seven Days” and is thoroughly enchanted after putting on her
mermaid tail with its built-in swim fins.
“I felt the tail rise as if magically,” she wrote. “I released
my hands from the wall and began to swim … like a mermaid. A
doggy-paddling mermaid, mind you, and one who momentarily panicked
when she realized she couldn’t scissor-kick her legs.”
Sarah, who soon catches on to swimming like a dolphin, discusses
the risks of drowning with one’s legs tied together, and she
explains why mermaid schools tend to emphasize safety.
What I find interesting about this mermaid trend is that
children are getting excited about swimming. Being a mermaid or
merman expands their confidence as they hold their breath under
water for longer periods of time while building up their muscles
for what could become a lifelong interest in aquatic sports — or at
least some basic survival skills.
I grew up with cats and have lived with cats for most of my
life. I can’t recall that any of my feline friends were fond of
water. But then nobody I know has ever taken the time to teach them
to surf on the back of a dog, ride the waves with a human or even
learn the basic command to “stay.”
These things are exactly what long-time dog trainer Robert Dollwet has
done after deciding he wanted to train cats. After moving from
California to Australia in 2010, Robert went to a local animal
shelter and adopted a lively kitten he named Didga, short for
Didgeridoo. As he proceeded through the training, Robert began
sharing his methods on a YouTube channel he named “CATMANTOO.”
Later, he added another kitten, Boomer, to his family.
The first video on this page shows Didga performing a stunt that
Robert calls “Ice surfing.” That’s because the dog (who belongs to
a client involved in dog training) is named Ice. Robert says many
of the feats shown in his videos take weeks or months for the
animals to learn.
“Please don’t try the things you see at home,” he says in a note
attached to the video. “I’d feel bad if your cat was hurt or forced
into doing something they don’t want to do. Watch my tutorials to
learn how to teach your cat.”
The second video, released in April, shows Boomer riding on a
surfboard on a river, as Robert gently paddles around.
“We’ve been doing this since he was a kitten,” Robert writes in
the notes. “I gave him lots of food while he rides on the
surfboard. He’s 11 months now, and he is so comfortable, it’s about
that time to take his surfboard riding skills to the next level —
by actual surfing on a wave in the ocean (with life vest, of
course). Stay tuned.”
The third video is an amusing story called “Didga Dreams BIG,”
which actually shows off this cat’s repertoire of tricks and
stunts. I like the way Robert demonstrates his cats’ abilities by
telling little stories in some of the videos — such as Didga’s
skateboard trip around the beach town of Coolangatta, where he
lives in Australia. See “World’s Best
On the Fourth of July, what could be more appropriate for this
blog than a combination of water and fireworks? Lets add some
lasers, flashing lights, searchlights and projected images.
It all comes together at Shanghai Disneyland, which opened a
couple weeks ago in China, with an entirely new nighttime
extravaganza called “Ignite the Dream.” Similar to other Disneyland
shows, the action takes place at the Enchanted Storybook
The first video reveals what people see when they attend the
show. Be sure to watch in full-screen. Mickey Mouse offers a tour
of images associated Disney films, including “The Lion King,” “The
Little Mermaid” and “Finding Nemo.” Mickey then moves to other
locations reminiscent of more than a dozen other Disney movies.
Shanghai Disneyland, which opened June 16, is the first Disney
theme park in China, not counting the one in Hong Kong. It is the
sixth park throughout the world. At 963 acres, it is second in size
only to Disney World in Florida. The Storybook Castle is the
tallest of any park in the world.
The associated Disney Resort contains an entertainment district,
recreational facilities, a lake and two themed hotels. The cost is
estimated at $4.4 billion. The Walt Disney Company owns 43 percent
of the resort, while the remainder belongs to a joint venture of
three companies owned by the Shanghai government. The project was
approved by the Chinese government in 2009, and construction
started two years later.
The second two videos feature visits to the new theme park, the
first by CNN’s Matt Rivers, the second by Good Morning America’s
How high school and college students view climate change shine
through clearly in new video productions submitted in a contest
organized by the University of Washington School of Environmental
and Forest Sciences.
The school is a unit within the UW College of the Environment.
This is the second year for the contest, supported by the Denman
Endowment for Student Excellence in Forest Resources.
Contest rules describe climate change as an issue that unites
all the research interests within the school, topics that include
sustainable forest management, biofuels, wildlife conservation,
landscape ecology and plant microbiology.
“Much of the responsibility for finding sustainable solutions
will fall on the younger generations,” the rules state. “That’s
what inspired us to host this video competition — to spread
awareness and hear your voices on the issue.”
The first video on this page is the 2016 first-place winner in
the high school division. The second video is the 2016 first-place
winner in the college division. The third video is last year’s
first-place winner in the high school division.
Judging was conducted by a panel of climate scientists, artists
and filmmakers. First-place winners received $5,000; second-place,
$1,000; and third-place, $500.
Here are this year’s winning videos, with links to the top three
in each division:
High school students, 2016
Place: Yuna Shin, Henry M. Jackson High School,
Place: Suraj Buddhavarapu, Naveen Sahi, Allison Tran
and Vibha Vadlamani, Tesla STEM High School, Redmond.
Place: Luke Brodersen, Shorewood High School,
Other finalists: Julci Areza, Chloe Birney and
Tanaya Sardesai, Redmond High School in Redmond, and Aria Ching,
Jesselynn Noland, Emily Riley and Emily Weaver, Lynnwood High
School in Bothell.
College undergraduates, 2016
Place: Audrey Seda and Tommy Tang, Eastern Washington
University and University of Washington – Bothell.
Place: Ben Jensen, Charles Johnson and Anthony
Whitfield, University of Washington.
A little understanding of the metric system and knowledge of
common measurements can be helpful when it comes to these so-called
“conversion jokes.” A few involve English measurements, and it
never hurts to know random things — such as the name of a common
Although conversion jokes, created with an equal sign, have been
around for years, I just became aware of them. I’m offering a
collection of these jokes that have been circulating on the
Internet plus a few others collected along the way.
Because specific knowledge is required, these jokes remind me of
the so-called “intellectual jokes” that I wrote about in 2014. (See
Water Ways, Dec. 12, 2014.) One major difference is that I
don’t believe explanations are needed, because these jokes
are more related to puns than to specialized fields of science,
math or literature.
1 millionth of a salmon = 1 microfiche
2,000 mockingbirds = 2 kilomockingbirds
Half of a large intestine = 1 semicolon
1,000,000 aches = 1 megahurtz
4 nickels = 2 paradigms
453.6 graham crackers = 1 pound cake
Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the
pavement = 1 bananosecond
Half a pair of goggles = 1 demagogue
3 1/3 tridents = 1 decadent
2 wharves = 1 paradox
One million-million bulls = one terabull
Ratio of an igloo’s circumference to its diameter = 1
1000 cubic centimeters of wet socks = 1
2 untruths = 1 paralyze
365.25 days of drinking low-calorie beer = 1 lite
2,000 pounds of Chinese soup = Won ton
10 cards = 1 decacards
Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per
hour = Knotfurlong