Thursday, May 8, 2008

Blog Aquatic Goes to the Shark Cafe

For the better part of this year, Very Special Friend to Blog Aquatic has been working on a documentary. An aquatic documentary, that is. Seeing as this blog appreciates the quirkier, cuter side of the aquatic, we commend Special Friend for making a film on the cuter and quirkier side of an unlikely source: The Great White Shark.

Considering how many fears and nightmares surround the Great White Shark (to this day the Blog Aquatic gets a little ansy in the deep end of a pool), there is very little that is actually known about the sharks. Shockingly little in fact. For years our understanding of the Great White Shark has been reduced to the sensationalized, blood-thirsty images of Jaws reruns and nature shows.

But, as the film, Shark Cafe, explores -- all this is about to change. White shark research is now making unprecedented growth, with the most important research happening right here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Biologists and researchers are learning more about the great white than ever before. Developments in technology, along with changing public perceptions, are creating a unique moment in great white history. We have the opportunity to dramatically change our understanding -- and appreciation-- of the Great White Shark's role in the ecosystem.

Shark Cafe is smart without being too flashy, insightful without giving too many easy answers. This film has amazing archive footage, brawny marine biologists, and of course sharks as you've never seen them before. Please join me at the film's premiere next Friday before it moves on to aquatic film festivals everywhere (Here's to Ocean Film Festival 2009).

See you at the screening:

Shark Cafe:
A Curious History of The Great White Shark from Jaws to Facebook

NorthGate Hall, Room 105

Friday May 16th, 2008
6:30 pm
(Directions to NorthGate Hall on the UC Berkeley Campus can be found here.)

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Blog Aquatic Goes to Boston

This past weekend Blog Aquatic left the sunny warmth of the West Coast and headed East to visit special sister to Aquatic Blog, Octopus Cake. Because so many of my devoted blog readers hail from the greater Boston area (ok, just Dan), I thought Blog Aquatic readers would appreciate an update on one of the more quirker aquatic gems to be found in the little-city-that-could. The lobster? The harbor? No. I'm talking of course about the glass sea creatures of the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

Glass sea creatures? We were initially suspicious as well. But these meticulously-constructed glass animals embody the kind of neurotic precision and obsessive fanaticism that is the true Blog Aquatic spirit. A German father and son team, Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka, created these shockingly lifelike representations of underwater invertebrates in the late 19th century. Originally commissioned for the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, the sea creatures were used as teaching tools.

The exhibit currently on display is one of a much larger collection that also includes the Blaschkas' more famous glass flower sculptures. The sea creatures include jellyfish, octopi and even mysterious animals called sea pens. (Futher Blog Aquatic research found that the strange sea pens are in the same phylum as jellyfish, or Cnidaria.) Here are just a sampling of the Blaschka's incredible handiwork:

As if their manic fascination with sea creatures was not enough for us to revere the Blaschkas, I was further heartened to learn that Leopold Blaschka also kept a pet snail. Yes. A pet snail.
Leopold named the snail Lotte, and the two co-existed peaceably for some eight years until Lotte the Snail's death. Yes- 8 years. The current exhibit on display at Harvard actually includes Lotte's shell-- as well as an epitaph that Leopold wrote for his dear snail.

Oh Leopold. Oh Lotte.

More on my edible aquatic adventures of Boston in later posts...