Flu pandemics for fish

As the weather has gotten colder we are once again faced with the not so pleasant prospect of coming down with the flu. The flu is a virus that seems to walk its way around the world every year making a lot of people’s lives miserable. With way the viruses’ have of changing very year one flu shot will not do it like it does for polio or the mumps – we need to have one every year. In the US alone the flu kills around 38,000 people every year. As much as we humans like to think of ourselves as special even right down to our diseases other animals also suffer from the wrath of viruses.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Energy: Nature’s oil

Most of us think of energy as electricity from a plug or gasoline from our favorite station. These forms of energy run our tools, toys and keep our homes at a temperature that we like. For fish and all other living things energy takes the form of food or direct conversion of sunlight. These forms of energy come from only one place, directly or indirectly, and that’s the sun. The oil and coal we use to make electricity and gasoline comes from plants that used the sun to grow and fermented for eon’s underground – kind of like an energy bank. We have been withdrawing from that energy bank pretty heavily for the last 100 years and it will be empty in another 50 years. To understand how energy is used in nature an understanding of the laws of thermodynamics is required. Continue reading

What price Science?

Something early in a scientist’s life makes him or her want to know about the world around him. For a biologist it was a curiosity about the life that surrounded him and a driving need to find out all about it. The road for most of us was long and full of sacrifices but after years of undergrad and postgraduate work, for a few, a lucky few, the holy grail of an academic position came their way.Lectures mix with research and the never ending quest for grant money to pay for the research, their salaries and those of their graduate students (slaves). Over the last 20 years grant money has become harder and harder to come by and some academics have chosen or been forced to choose between taking money from people with their own agenda in mind or doing something else with their lives. Some of these agendas you might agree with and some of them you might not. But, what happens is that if they take money from someone like BP it forces us to ask are they on the side of the truth or the money? Continue reading

Gulf Coast ??? Oil Coast ??? Dying Coast?

The Gulf Coast runs from Brownsville, Texas north and east through the bayous and rivers of Louisiana – past the coast of Mississippi and the sugar white beaches of Alabama – past Pensacola’s emerald waters, Apalachicola, Big Bend and around down south past Tampa to Key West. The Gulf Coast provides a nation hungry for seafood with shrimp, crabs, oysters and finfish. Continue reading

Disease and disaster can change the balance

In nature there is a balance between the populations of all living organisms in an ecosystem. Balance is not static but dynamic and it is constantly shifting away from the balance point, only to be brought back through some correcting element. Some of these population shifts can be so small and slow that they aren’t easily perceive, others are large and happen so quickly that we are amazed to see them take place. Continue reading