Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the Big Island with some friends.  And I had the extended pleasure of flying back home in the Tomahawk! This was the route we took.  It was an amazing day and we got incredible pictures. More to come...

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Yesterday, Coconut Island had the honor of hosting the Hokulea; a traditional polynesian boat that was built to follow the footsteps of the original settlers to Hawaii.  They set out to prove that people could travel from as far away as New Zealand to Hawaii on a hand-built catamaran.  It was so exciting to see her.  The crew sang a wonderful chant too when then docked here. Very cool.  Soon they are setting off to do a trip around the world that will take three and a half years.  I want to go! They navigate by the stars and do research along the way.

Here I am trying out the oar that steers the boat.  It was very sunny.... 

This was an accidental candid picture that I ended up kinda liking. I was thrilled to be on the boat. Not may people get to do that.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


On Sunday, I went diving with a couple of friends at Shark's Cove and then Three Tables.  These are two spots on the north shore of Oahu that have amazing swim through caves and big rock formations where you can find a whole bunch of exciting critters!

We saw a little white tip reef shark that had been ensnared in a fishing line. We liberated it from the offending line and I definitely felt slightly better about myself as a human being.  We saw several turtles, maybe five or six?  They were chomping away on the limu (Hawaiian for seaweed).  Then, on our second dive, I found two octopuses mating! I was very proud of myself because, although I am the octopus lady in Hawaii, I am rarely the one to spot them when Bert and I are out fishing.  I tend to find them only when I don't have a bucket nearby :)

When we came back to Coconut, there were two adorable big fin reef squid hanging out by the boats.  People often mistake them for cuttlefish because they have such a large fin surrounding their mantle.  But, they are definitely squid.  You can tell because they keep their feeding tentacles dangling out of their mouths while cuttlefish keep their tentacles tucked up under their arms.

 I went flying with Dave a few times last week and meant to post some of the pictures. We went in the Tomahawk around the island and passed by Sacred Falls. Here's a pic of the falls from the plane. This weekend I think we are going to head out to Molokai again and I'll post some pics of the stunning rock cliffs.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Today, on my way to the aquarium, I saw this.

In case you can't read the license plate, it says "MO OIL." Gross. I was so disgusted, I thought I would take a picture for you all to enjoy.  Don't worry, it was stop and go traffic so I wasn't taking pictures while driving.  I kept wondering whether this particular human being who owned this monstrosity was aware that we are living in Hawaii where, a) there is no need for a vehicle this large (even a small car with four wheel drive will get you everywhere you need to go) and b) gas is not extremely accessible.  We are on a tiny series of islands in the middle of the Pacific. We are the most isolated group of islands in the world... This seems like the most ridiculous car to own here.  Again, gross. 

Anyway, I was on my way to the aquarium because they recently had a female day octopus who laid eggs. It was an interesting experience because I was suddenly the "expert."  I was being praised for my experience with octopus mothers and babies. I hadn't necessarily thought that I had done much of anything over the past four years except struggle to get my PhD proposal together, but apparently, I've accomplished something in the process. It felt pretty good to be able to talk about this species and realize, "Hey, I know what I'm talking about!" We looked at the eggs under the scope and I could tell what stage of development they were in. Hopefully, this will be the start of a collaboration involving the rearing of adorable baby octopuses!

Dave and I saw a nice little ray the other day over by the pier.  It was being followed by a whole bunch of fish.  He took a great pic of it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Yesterday, I was in the belly of a bird. It was blissful.

You'd never know I used to hate roller-coasters...

I meant to elaborate, but I've lost my ability to use words. I've spent the last twelve hours deciphering letters and numbers strewn about spreadsheets that, supposedly, will form the basis for a chapter of my dissertation.

Caught six new octopuses last night--five of them males.  Where are you my ladies? Where are you?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Taking things apart

For those of us who like to take things apart and put them back together, I thought this video was fitting.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cassiopeia Jellyfish

The original purpose of this blog was to be educational to some degree, but the contents have slowly devolved into a series of entertaining videos and photos. In an effort to revisit some part of my original intentions, I give you this post:

Recently, the Monterrey Bay Aquarium had asked Jason (the Dive Safety Officer at HIMB, whom I now work for) and I to collect upside-down jellyfish for a new exhibit. What are upside-down jellyfish you ask? Why, they are the most beautiful ocean carpeting available!

Upside-down jellyfish are so called because of their tendency to plant their bells firmly on the bottom of the ocean floor with their tentacles floating upwards in the current. They come in an assortment of colors, but certainly the blues and greens tend to be the most stunning. Here are some pics:

As you can see, they are quite beautiful. Perhaps you can also see why I refer to them as jellyfish carpeting. They are everywhere!

This particular type of jellyfish is invasive in Hawaii, so collecting and giving them away is no real moral issue. The issue is--they sting. When these guys get disturbed, they release a cloud of mucous filled with pneumatocysts (the stinging cells in jellyfish). Lots and lots of tiny cells with barbed tendrils ready to burst out and puncture your delicate skin. When that happens, this is the result:

Red-Blotchy-Pain-Face! Jason and I used vinegar, hot water, and even pee (well, he did...) with no relief. We collected thirty of them, and obviously, in the process, they got pissed at us. We were pretty much as covered as you can be (hood, mask, wet suit, gloves) but anything that was left uncovered was stung. And this was the kind of stinging that is relentless. The wind slightly brushes your cheek--PAIN!! A small drop of dew lightly brushes your skin--PAIN!! Thankfully, it only seems to last a day. But the weird thing is that it doesn't seem to ebb, it just suddenly stops. Perhaps that is when all of the pneumatocysts have fired...

Anyway, the Monterrey Bay aquarium received our bounty of jellies and sent us a picture of the result:

Not bad. Not bad at all. Maybe I can get a free tour of the aquarium if I ever come to visit :)

On a different topic, today I went to a local conference for high school students where I taught a few sessions about DNA. What began as an ostensibly simple and fun task ended up being more akin to a clustercuss. Well, perhaps I exaggerate. But, it certainly wasn't as pleasant as I expected. I thought I was going to be in a room where I could set up the activity we were doing, but then I was quietly escorted to a sad, lonely table with one chair out in the hallway. I was placed next to a lovely, luxurious conference room where I could see all the splendiferous space to do many a productive and fun science activity. But, no. That was not for me. I was to sit outside the splendiferous place and try to do an science activity in the hallway for 45 minutes... Twice. What high schooler wants to stand for 45 minutes huddled around a table learning about the finer points of DNA extraction? Well, certainly not these high schoolers. (I suppose there were a few who may have feigned interest. One girl actually said she might like to go into marine biology now.) Anyway, I did my best. Eventually, I gave up on talking about DNA and just started talking about my own research. As soon as I said the words "octopus penis," I definitely recaptured the crowd. Who doesn't like a salacious story of octopuses being ravished?

Ok, definitely went off topic there. What I wanted to talk about was a moment during a lull when two elderly gentlemen approached my table and began asking questions about my research. They were both retired professors who were also in science and were interested in perhaps doing their own activity next year. As I was chatting with them, filling them in on my research, one of them interrupted to say "It's so nice to see a young girl who is interested in science," in the most horribly patronizing tone I've ever heard! I seriously cringed. I'm sure he saw me say "Ewww" in my mind. This was the first time I've ever actually experienced any sort of overtly weird discrimination about being a woman in science. It felt really strange. In that moment, I was so grateful that I had never encountered that before. I feel like it says a lot about how much things have changed. Perhaps I've just been lucky and have had good mentors who have never made me feel like anything other than a scientist. Whether or not I am a female scientist has had no bearing on my education whatsoever. Maybe it is also because I am surrounded by female scientists all the time and we don't sit around praising each other for being women in science. Why would we? "Oh how wonderful you decided to go into science, you funny little girl. How adorable and how unique! Who would have thought a girl would have been so interested in science?" Ewww.

Anyway, take home message: Upside-down jellyfish (otherwise known as cassiopeia, hence the title... maybe I should have mentioned that earlier?) sting and feel like bees stinging you repeatedly in the face, and when you volunteer for something, make sure you know your audience...