The First of Its Kind: A Warm Blooded Deep Sea Fish Discovered

Aside from its funky flat shape and peach-pink-silver coloring, the opah or moonfish (Lampris guttatus) has something else entirely unique going for it: It’s warm-blooded, the first fish ever discovered to have this trait, according to new research from NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region.

The silvery fish, roughly the size of a large automobile tire, is known from oceans around the world and dwells hundreds of feet beneath the surface in chilly, dimly lit waters. It swims by rapidly flapping its large, red pectoral fins like wings through the water.

Fish that typically inhabit such cold depths tend to be slow and sluggish, conserving energy by ambushing prey instead of chasing it. But the opah’s constant flapping of its fins heats its body, speeding its metabolism, movement and reaction times, scientists report in the journal Science.

That warm-blooded advantage turns the opah into a high-performance predator that swims faster, reacts more quickly and sees more sharply, said fisheries biologist Nicholas Wegner of NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif., lead author of the new paper.

The warm-bloodedness was discovered almost by accident, when Wegner and co-author biologist Owyn Snodgrass, were looking at the gill structure of the opah. “Fish have just a few large blood vessels that bring blood to and from the gills, where tiny vessels pick up oxygen from the water,” reports ScienceNews. “But the opah has an elaborate network of tiny blood vessels, in which arteries lie next to veins in tightly packed arrays.” This type of blood circulation helps the fish stay warm rather than taking on the temperature of the surrounding water.




Think About It Thursday: What Does Thunder Look Like?

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This weeks Think About It Thursday we will discover what thunder, not lightning, actually looks like!! 

In a recent article published by USA Today, scientists reveal that they have actually “seen” thunder. “We all know what lightning looks like, and all hear the thunder that comes out from the lightning strike,” said Maher Dayeh, a research scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. These first images of thunder allow us to see what we hear, he said. “While we understand the general mechanics of thunder generation, it’s not particularly clear which physical processes of the lightning discharge contribute to the thunder we hear,”  Dayeh said.

Since thunder and lightning are unpredictable, Dayeh and his team artificially triggered lightning strikes at an outdoor laboratory in central Florida last summer. Scientists fired off a small rocket into the thunderclouds. Like fish biting a baited hook, lightning was attracted to a copper wire attached to the rocket.

Dayeh put out a sophisticated array of 15 microphones to study the thunder. The microphones were lined up 103 yards from the rocket launch pad where the triggered lightning hit.

It turned out that the loudest thunder was near the ground, not up in the clouds. “That’s where the lightning channel is attaching into the ground,” Dayeh said.

To check out the rocket experiment watch this video below:


Think About It Thursday: How Does A Polaroid Camera Work?

Today, May 7, is the birthday of scientist and inventor Edwin H. Land. Land was born on May 7, 1909 and is known mostly for his inventing of the Polaroid instant camera.  Happy Birthday Mr. Land!! Land also co-founded the Polaroid Corporation in 1937. Among other things, Land invented inexpensive filters for polarizing light, a practical system of in-camera instant photography. His Polaroid instant camera, which went on sale in late 1948, made it possible for a picture to be taken and developed in 60 seconds or less.

The trick to the Polaroid camera is in the film itself. The film contains three silver compounds. When these compounds are exposed to a large number of light photons, it forms silver atoms. In the color film typically used with the Polaroid camera, the top layer is sensitive to blue light, the next layer is sensitive to green and the bottom layer is sensitive to red. When the film was exposed, the sensitive grains at each layer react to light of that color, creating a chemical record of the light and color pattern. Underneath each color layer, there is a developer layer containing dye couplers. All of these layers sit on top of a black base layer, and underneath the image layer, the timing layer and the acid layer. This arrangement is a chemical chain reaction waiting to be set in motion.

Check out this video below to see exactly how a Polaroid camera works!