Friday Smorgasbord: Extinct mollusks return, deep sea robot reboot, tuna-bots, dolphin birth, Madagascar reefs and NYC LFS makes the WSJ

By on Sep 21, 2012

Another Friday in the book and the last one before the annual mecca to MACNA next weekend in Dallas. We have a full slate of cool tidbits to entertain you and set your weekend off on fun foot. First off we get a look in the past with the use of a 3D printer. Scientists have tabbed the 3D printer to create a lifelike model of a long-extinct mollusk that crawled around the seabed 390 million years ago with a single, suction-like foot and some gnarly looking armor and ring of spines. The researchers based the model off a CT scan of a fossil found 10 years ago in Ohio.

[via Live Science]

Alvin, a nearly 50 year-old deep sea robot that has explored the ruins of the HMS Titanic, helped recover lost nukes, and helped advance our overall understanding and knowledge of the deep sea and ocean floor, is in the midst of a $40 million makeover. The revolutionary robot was revolutionary when it debuted in 1964 and is looking to be the king of the seas again. Operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the vessel is currently in the first of a two-phase, $40 million upgrade to bring Alvin back up to par set to wrap at the end of the year. The first phase includes making Alvin more maneuverable plus adding a bigger personnel sphere, three new 18-cm viewing ports and high-output lighting and HD cameras.

[via Gizmodo]

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A tuna-bot is being developed to be used by the Department of Homeland Security to help monitor the busy US ports. The DHS is using the robot fish in its efforts to ensure that contraband stays out of ports while maintaining the flow of national trade. The BIOSwimmer mimics the biomechanics of a tuna to explore the bilges and tanks of moored oil tankers and around piers and other items best viewed from the water using swappable sensor suites, including pencil-beam radar. Developed by the Boston Engineering Corporation’s Advanced Systems Group in 2009 and based on their GhostSwimmer prototype, the BIOISwimmer was initially funded by the DHS through a $100,000 SBIR contract.

[via Gizmodo]

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To give you some warm and fuzzy feelings here is an incredible video of a live birth of a baby dolphin at Hawaii’s Dolphin Quest. According to the staff at DQ, this is a first-time mommy with the 12-year-old dolphin named Keo. And since it was a family affair both the new baby dolphin’s grandmother (Pele) and aunt (Noelani) were in the lagoon with her during the birth. Keo’s calf is the 18th dolphin baby and the first second-generation calf to be born at the conservation and education-dedicated marine park.

[via io9]

New research is showing some reefs in the Western Indian Ocean, especially around Madagascar, have coral diversity that is greater than originally believed and may even rival parts of the Great Barrier Reef. Researchers found 369 coral species in the West Indian Ocean and have estimated that a deeper look could yield up to 450 species there. These are on the levels seen near India’s Andaman Islands on the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef. The number of species is especially high in the northern Mozambique Channel, the waterway that separates Madagascar from Africa’s west coast. The researchers said 250 to 300 species could be found at sites in this area.

[via LiveScience]

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Finally, we know that LFS’s range from little mom and pops to large-scale establishments serving wealthier hobbyists (at $100,000 for an aquarium are you really a hobbyist?) and one New York City shop made it to the Wall Street Journal getting featured in the video above. City Aquarium in Brooklyn (the borough now competing with Portland as the hipster capital of the US), serves clients from Ben Affleck to Jorge Posada and many more. Always interesting to take a peek and see how the big guys do it.

[via WSJ]

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