There's this amazing place on Oahu called Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, where most tourists go snorkel with fishies. It's a great spot for all levels of ocean explorers because the fish are big, the waters fairly calm and volunteers share their knowledge about the sea and its inhabitants with visitors.
On Thursday evenings, they do a free public lecture, the Hanauma Bay Education Lecture—a great place to hear scientists talk about their research. They even live stream it so you don't have to be there in person! Check out their YouTube page to watch past presentations.
Tonite was a presentation by my fellow Moss Landing Marine Laboratories alum, Allen Andrews. He's dedicated his career to exploring how to age fish by their otoliths (ear stones) and has come up with some very innovative ways to measure it. Otoliths, up close look similar to a cut through a tree trunk with growth rings, and in a similar way they are counted to calculate how old the fish was when it died. Allen also uses the radioactive signature from non-underground nuclear testing (above ground testing was conducted from 1945 to 1980) and he's developing a method using a laser!
Otoliths, also known as ear bones, reside in the inner ears of all vertebrates. They are important for balance, movement. We have two, fishes have three that aid them with balance, movement and hearing.
The three types of OTOLITHs:
- Sagitta: The largest of the 3 pairs of otoliths, sagitta is involved in the detection of sound and the process of hearing, or converting sound waves into electrical signals
- Asteriscus: This type of otolith is involved in the detection of sound and the process of hearing.
- Lapillus: This type of otolith is involved in the detection of gravitational force and sound (Popper and Lu 2000)
Above otolith description is an excerpt from
I sketch noted his presentation, he uses the data from nuclear testing to validate age-growth in different species of fish, I learned there are THREE pairs of otoliths...I started wondering why and how that helps them. He also shared details on his work using lasers to sample from otoliths.
Next month I'll be one of the Schmidt Ocean Institute Artists sharing the amazing journey into science and plankton sailing across the Pacific from Honolulu to Portland earlier this year! Tune in or come in person. In person folks get extra bonus show-n-tell at the end!